A wrong righted Trump pardons 'Scooter' Libby

A wrong righted Trump pardons 'Scooter' Libby

President Donald Trump issued a pardon Friday to I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, suggesting the former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney had been "treated unfairly" by a special counsel. The special counsel also found much evidence that behind his prosecutorial target stood the vice president himself - who had ordered the White House press secretary to lie publicly about Libby's role. "I am grateful today that President Trump righted this wrong by issuing a full pardon to Scooter, and I am thrilled for Scooter and his family". "President Donald Trump has granted a pardon to I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby on the basis that he was 'treated unfairly.' That is simply false". During that time, he appointed a special counsel to prosecute a high-profile case that led to Libby's guilty verdict in 2007. Like Trump, Libby had also been investigated by James Comey, the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director that Trump had fired and is now releasing a tell-all about Trump's administration.

Given Trump's disinterest in the minutiae of politics that do not directly concern him, which Libby's case did not, it seems improbable that these symbolic connections occurred to him on his own-but I believe he understood the dual message of vengeance and impunity that a pardon would convey.

"I don't know Mr. Libby", Trump said in a statement. (Full statement below.) "Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life'". As the White House's official statement notes, "One of the key witnesses against Mr. Libby recanted her testimony" in 2015, which in turn convinced the District of Columbia Court of Appeals to reinstate him into the bar so that he could practice law again. Moreover, Libby has never apologized for his acts and continues to proclaim his innocence, not the usual conduct of someone who receives a presidential pardon.

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Mr Trump knows the attorneys and had sought to add them to his legal team defending him in the Russian investigation, but it was determined Mr diGenova and Mr Toensing had conflicts of interest that would prevent them from joining.

Fitzgerald denied that Libby's prosecution was unjust. Pardoning Libby certainly seems like one way for Trump to discreetly assure any supporters touched by the Mueller investigation that he will take care of them in the long run-if they cover for the president.

At the same time, Wheeler writes, "This won't be one (Manafort) or two (Cohen) people Trump has to pardon". In fact, Trump should issue even more of them. "Mr. Trump has repeatedly complained that the special counsel investigation into possible cooperation between his campaign and Russian Federation in 2016 has gone too far and amounts to an unfair "witch hunt," The New York Times said.

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Trump's pardon may send another message - that he is willing to use his pardon power to reward loyalists and to punish prosecutors he sees as running amok. "Libby's problem was with the Justice Department". Most notably, he pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff whose crackdown on immigrants in the USA illegally, resulted in a conviction for criminal contempt.

The first thing I learned was that John Rizzo, the CIA's former general counsel and an agency lawyer for over 30 years, disputed prosecutor Fitzgerald's assertion that Valerie Plame had been a super-secret covert agent, not well known outside of the intelligence community, and that the leak of her name had caused grave, if unspecified, harm to America's national security. Mr Trump has called that probe a "witch hunt".

NPR political reporter Jessica Taylor contributed.

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