Who Is Scooter Libby, and Why Did Trump Pardon Him?

There is nothing President Donald Trump hates more than leaks. Leaks plagued the new president from the moment he stepped into the White House — leaks from his advisors, his closest staff and, oddly enough, even leaks from the president himself.

Yet on Friday April 13, President Trump pardoned one of the most notorious leakers in recent political history: I. Lewis [Scooter] Libby, Jr. And that out-of-left-field pardon may be all about paving the way for presidential pardons down the road.

Libby served as chief of staff to Republican Vice President Dick Cheney, the second-in-command under President George W. Bush. But in 2007 Libby was convicted of multiple felonies — including lying to a federal grand jury and the FBI about leaking the identity of CIA officer, Valerie Plame to conservative columnist Robert Novak. This move outed Plame as a spy in 2003 during the launch of the Iraq War.

The New York Times reported:

The jury rejected Mr. Libby’s claims of memory lapses as it convicted him of four felony counts: obstruction of justice, giving false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and committing perjury twice before the grand jury. The 11-member jury acquitted Mr. Libby on an additional count of making false statements to the F.B.I.

Libby, who was initially sentenced to 30 months in prison, had his sentence commuted by President Bush, he was not granted any sort of pardon — despite allegations that Vice President Cheney lobbied on his behalf.

Now, a decade later, Libby is finally getting that pardon at last — for reasons no one quite understands, other than President Trump himself. “I don’t know Mr. Libby, but for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly,” Trump said in a statement from the White House, according to Huffington Post. “Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life.”

Speculation as to the motive and timing of the pardon has run from cronyism to the simple need for a good old-fashioned news distraction. But some suggest that new changes in Trump’s inner circle could account for the pardon. According to the New York Times:

Among the allies from the Bush administration who have argued that he was treated unfairly is John R. Bolton, an ally of Mr. Cheney’s who served as Mr. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations and started this week as Mr. Trump’s national security adviser.”

Others feel that the timing of the pardon could be a middle finger to former FBI Director James Comey, who just released a stinging book criticizing President Trump. The Washington Post notes:

The chief federal prosecutor in Libby’s case was Patrick Fitzgerald, then the U.S. attorney from the Northern District of Illinois. Fitzgerald is a longtime friend and colleague of James B. Comey, the fired FBI director whose new memoir paints a scathing portrait of Trump’s character and conduct in office.

But the most logical speculation revolves around the theory that the president is signaling his willingness to pardon individuals who evade the truth — or outright lie — when questioned under the current Mueller investigation.

“Former CIA operative Valerie Plame says President Donald Trump’s plans to pardon I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby send a message “that you can commit crimes against national security and you will be pardoned,’ reports the Associated Press.

President Trump and his staff are desperate to make parallels between Libby’s case and the current FBI investigation. As ABC News reports:

[Trump adviser Kelly Anne] Conway was pressed by reporters at the White House on whether it’s the president’s intention to send a message “that it’s okay to lie under oath and to obstruct justice,” and insisted that is not the case. She then suggested that the longtime attack line from conservative allies of Libby – that he’s merely the victim of an out of control special prosecutor – has resonated with the president. “You know, many people think that Scooter Libby was the victim of a special counsel gone amok,” Conway said.

According to the White House, there are no current plans to offer pardons over the Russia investigation. Then again, until very recently, President Trump said he had no plans to pardon Libby, either.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

46 comments

Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga5 months ago

noted

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld5 months ago

Paul B.,
I think the comments are more partisan. The Dems automatically assume Trump is scum, and the Reps that he is justified. Neither care too much about the truth.

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Chrissie R
Chrissie R5 months ago

Thank you for posting.

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Clare O
Clare O5 months ago

th

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Jetana A
Jetana A5 months ago

Doesn’t sound like someone deserving of pardon, someone who should have served his rather short prison sentence.

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Fiona O
Fiona O5 months ago

Robin: Do something truly useful for all American and especially Native Americans....find out whay Obama denied a pardon to Leonard Peltier.

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Margie F
Margie FOURIE5 months ago

Thanks

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Paul B
Paul B5 months ago

Wow, the comments here show how easily many are manipulated into believing lies and anything they are told by their corrupt leaders in DC and the media who never miss an opportunity to try and trash the president. Shameful and simply wrong. Facts matter... try it some time.

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Paul B
Paul B5 months ago

It would be nice if you got the story even close to truth. If you take the time to actually look at what happened you would see that Libby was basically framed by the FBI and Comey used as leverage against Chaney. Libby wouldn't role over so they prosecuted him. The journalist who named him, after she served her time said the accusations against Libby were false. Plame wan't on the protected list, plus the actual leaker was one of Colin Powell's staff, not Libby. Once the truth came out, the right thing to do was pardon him, since he committed no crime.
This is a prime example of how out of control the FBI is and Comey was at the center of it. Comey knew he was innocent and sent him to jail anyway.

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Winn A
Winn A5 months ago

:-(

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