Trump to pardon Bush-era chief of staff 'Scooter' Libby

Mary Altaffer  AP FILE

Mary Altaffer AP FILE

President Trump has pardoned Scooter Libby, the George W. Bush administration aide convicted of lying to the FBI in an investigation into a leak of the identity of a covert Central Intelligence Agency agent.

"But, just, again, his contempt for this investigation is evident, I think, by reaching back to somebody who he doesn't know, but he heard was mistreated, so, therefore, as president, he should just pardon him".

"My name and identity were carelessly and recklessly abused by senior government officials in both the White House and the State Department", Plame would later say before Congress.

This is going too far.' And President Bush was angry with Vice President Cheney about going to the mattresses on this whole point.

ABC News first reported news of the coming pardon on Thursday evening, which sources close to Trump say he considered for months.

President Donald Trump pardoned Lewis "Scooter" Libby on Friday. (Full statement below.) "Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life'". Libby, who served as Cheney's chief of staff, was convicted in 2007 of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to FBI investigators. Libby paid a $250,000 fine, served two years of probation, performed 400 hours of community service, and lost his license to practice law.

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While his White House was being packed up in boxes, Bush mulled candidates for presidential pardons.

The pardon might assuage two audiences critical of Trump: traditional Republicans, who have long claimed Libby's conviction was an abuse of the justice system, and whose support Trump needs to consolidate as he tries to advance his agenda; and targets of a special prosecutor's investigation into irregularities in Trump's election campaign.

Multiple associates of Mr. Trump's campaign, including Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos, have been charged in connection to that probe, which Mr. Trump has repeatedly called a "witch hunt".

Mr Cheney told the New York Times Mr Libby is "one of the most capable, principled and honourable men I have ever known".

Libby was not accused of blowing Plame's cover, but of lying during the subsequent inquiry.

Trump has repeatedly called Mueller's probe a "witch hunt" and he and Russian Federation have both denied any wrongdoing.

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In a statement, Trump conceded he has no personal relationship with Libby, whose case has been held up by conservatives as an example of a special counsel overstepping his bounds.

Libby's pardon amounts to official forgiveness for his crime, but does not equate to exoneration or finding that he was innocent.

In all, eight witnesses, many of them high-ranking members of the Bush administration, contradicted Libby's testimony.

Trump has also pardoned Joe Arpaio, the controversial ex-sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, and Kristian Mark Saucier, the former Navy sailor who took illegal photos of the classified area of a military submarine. Neither case was eligible under Justice Department guidelines.

Mr Trump's decision to pardon Lewis "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff to the former vice-president Dick Cheney, has prompted speculation that there may be other such pardons to come. "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". He had been disbarred but was reinstated by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in 2016. Asked if a pardon would effectively be sending a message to Comey, Conway said no.

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