Trump pardons Cheney aide 'Scooter' Libby

Tyler Owen
April 14, 2018

"Scooter" Lewis Libby, the ex-chief of staff for former Vice President Dick Cheney who was convicted of perjury (among other things) in 2007. By pardoning Mr. Libby, Mr. Trump sends a message to those who might incriminate him in crimes related to conspiring with Russians to tamper with the election: The message is that he will rectify any sadness that protecting a president might cause.

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide, was convicted of obstruction and lying to investigators.

Comey went on to become Federal Bureau of Investigation director and was sacked by Trump, a move that led to the appointment of Robert Mueller, another former Federal Bureau of Investigation director whom Trump nearly daily accuses of conducting a "witch hunt".

Trump said he does not know Libby, but "for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly". Hopefully, this full pardon may definitely help a part of his entire life.

Before former President George W. Bush left office, he declined to pardon Libby, despite commuting his prison sentence.

A decade after Libby's conviction, a key witness recanted her testimony, explaining that the prosecutor withheld relevant information during interviews which would have changed what she said.

In 2016, the District of Columbia reinstated Libby's license.

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It's unclear whether Trump is sending a message or not to individuals involved in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.

Last month, Trump pardoned a Navy sailor Kristian Saucier who took photos in a nuclear submarine and served a year in federal prison. "Virtually everyone in Washington thought he should be fired for the awful job he did-until he was, in fact, fired", Trump wrote. While Mr. Fitzgerald prepared her, she recalls, his pointed queries led her to believe that a four-word question regarding Joseph Wilson surrounded by parentheses in her notebook-"(wife works in Bureau?)"-proved that Mr. Libby had told her about Ms. Plame's Central Intelligence Agency employment in a June 23, 2003, conversation (well before Mr. Libby's phone conversation with Russert).

Many conservatives have been urging a pardon for Libby, including attorneys Joe diGenova and his wife, Victoria Toensing. Asked if a pardon would be about Mr Comey, Ms Conway said no. He granted one previous year for former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was awaiting sentencing for contempt of court.

Libby said that others had told him that they would not go into public service after seeing how he was treated because of his government role. His record since his conviction is similarly unblemished, and he continues to be held in high regard by his colleagues and peers.

So as Trump frets and fumes over the current special counsel probe of his presidential campaign's alleged collusion with Russia, Libby represents exactly what he wishes all of his associates would do. According to CNN, Libby's attorney Bill Jeffress said he first learned of the potential pardon that evening not through legal channels but through a rush of murmurs within the media.

NPR political reporter Jessica Taylor contributed.

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