President Trump has pardoned Scooter Libby, the former Chief of Staff of Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby was convicted in 2007 of perjury and obstruction of justice in relation to the case of a leaked CIAs operative’s identity, Valerie Plame. Then-President George W. Bush commuted Libby’s thirty-month prison sentence, but did not grant him a pardon. Libby was not involved in the leak itself.
“I don’t know Mr. Libby,” President Trump said in a statement after issuing the pardon. “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.”
Former Vice President Dick Cheney applauded the move, saying in a statement that Scooter Libby is “one of the most capable, principled, and honorable men I have ever known. He is innocent, and he and his family have suffered for years because of his wrongful conviction.
“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.”
Libby said he and his family were “immensely grateful to President Trump” for the decision. “For over a dozen years we have suffered under the weight of a terrible injustice,” he wrote in a statement. “To his great credit, President Trump recognized this wrong and would not let it persist.”
Libby’s attorney, Bill Jeffress, told CNN that the move was well deserved and overdue. He also said that he had been working on the pardon since the end of the Bush administration in 2008.
Some see Trump’s decision as a political move; a sign he is willing to issue pardons to aides who refuse to cooperate with federal officials. The signal is especially noteworthy in light of recent developments surrounding Michael Cohen, his personal attorney, whose offices were raided by federal investigators last week.
Libby’s allies say he was the victim of an overly-aggressive special counsel appointed to look into the Plame case. His supporters claim his statements were the result of innocent differences in memory, and not an intent to deceive or obstruct justice.
Patrick Fitzgerald, the special counsel that headed the Libby case, disputes that characterization. “Mr. Libby, represented by able counsel, received a fair trial before an exacting trial judge and a jury who found the facts clearly established that Libby committed the crimes he was charged with,” Fitzgerald wrote in a statement.
“That was true yesterday. It remains true today…The President has the right to pardon Mr. Libby and Mr. Libby has been pardoned. But the facts have not changed,” he added.
Photo by the U.S. National Archives