Executive Branch

Trump pardons 'Scooter' Libby; Comey had appointed the special counsel

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Scooter Libby

I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby in 2005. Wikimedia Commons.

Updated: President Donald Trump has pardoned I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, who was convicted in connection with a leak investigation.

The White House announced the pardon Friday, report the Washington Post and USA Today.

“I don’t know Mr. Libby,” Trump said in a statement. “But for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly. Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life.”

Libby was convicted in 2007 of perjury before a grand jury, lying to the FBI and obstructing an investigation into the leaked identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame.

Plame was married to a critic of the Bush administration. Libby was convicted for lying about how and when he learned about Plame’s identity and what he told reporters about her, the Washington Post reported in 2007. Libby maintained he had merely forgotten that he learned about Plame from Cheney. He was not charged with the leak, however.

James Comey, the fired FBI director, had appointed the special counsel who investigated the leak, the Washington Post reports here. Comey was the deputy attorney general, and he made the decision to appoint a special counsel after Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from the case.

Cheney had suspected that Comey’s appointment of the special counsel was revenge for a dispute regarding the legality of a surveillance program, according to the New York Times, which had an advance report on the expected announcement. Other publications with advance reports included the Washington Post, ABC News and Politico.

President George W. Bush had commuted Libby’s 30-month prison term without issuing a full pardon. Libby’s law license was reinstated in 2016.

Libby had insisted he had a different memory of events than other witnesses, and he didn’t intend to deceive investigators.

A different official who wasn’t charged, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, had acknowledged confirming Plame’s CIA connection to the Washington Post before any of Libby’s media contacts, according to Politico. Armitage said he wasn’t aware that Plame had been working undercover.

According to the New York Times, Libby’s case “has long been a cause for conservatives who maintained that he was a victim of a special prosecutor run amok, an argument that may have resonated with the president.”

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