What Libby's Pardon Really Means

Trump wants to reassure those who may be ensnared by tangential issues in Mueller's probe.

Nate Jackson · Apr. 13, 2018

President Donald Trump issued a long overdue pardon to Scooter Libby, former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney. “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. “Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life.”

For those who may not remember, in 2005, Libby was charged with lying to the FBI, perjury and obstruction of justice during the investigation into a non-crime. Sound familiar? The name of Valerie Plame, a CIA operative, was leaked to reporter Robert Novak by then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who later admitted he did so. Libby misled the FBI in an interview on what he knew of Plame’s status, he said because he misremembered. The rest of the story is too long to go into here, but suffice it to say Libby was a scapegoat for nothing.

“Like Bill Clinton, Scooter Libby was never charged on the allegations for which he was originally being investigated,” writes Ragan Ewing. “Libby’s crime was the cover-up of a non-crime. President George W. Bush commuted his 30-month sentence, guarding Libby from prison time, but stopped short of a full pardon, presumably because of the optics, and, again, Libby was indeed found guilty of dishonestly dealing with FBI investigators.”

Bush should have pardoned Libby. Trump is rectifying that, but make no mistake — it has more to do with Robert Mueller’s investigation than anything. Trump wants it known that if someone is ensnared by tangential issues in the investigation into the non-crime of supposed collusion with Russia, he’s got their back.

Oh, and by the way, Libby was charged by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, and the man who appointed Fitzgerald was none other than then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey. Something tells us, on the day Comey’s book is all over the news, Trump might have had that in mind.

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