UPDATED with Scooter Libby statement: President Donald Trump has pardoned Scooter Libby, chief of staff to then-Vice President Dick Cheney, the White House announced Friday.
Libby’s the guy convicted of perjury in 2007 in the investigation into who leaked the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame. President George W. Bush commuted Libby’s 30-month sentence, four months later. But Bush declined to pardon him.
Trump’s full pardon for Libby was not a surprise, having been first reported as being under consideration late last week. After it became official, some TV news pundits described it as a loud message to Trump’s former campaign adviser Paul Manafort, who is faced with the prospect of decades in jail. Those TV pundits said the development telegraphs Trump’s willingness to use his presidential power to pardon people being probed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Development comes days after reports prosecutors Mueller’s camp obtained 35 sets of subpoenas to call witnesses in Manafort’s bank and tax fraud trial.
Others called today’s pardon it a big nose thumb to fired FBI Director James Comey. Those TV talking heads noted the White House announcement comes same day ABC News unveiled the first titillating bits of George Stephanopoulos’s interview with Comey, including details of Trump’s reax when informed of the infamous alleged Pee Tape.
Libby was convicted in a case headed up by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald had been named to that responsibility by then-Deputy Attorney General Comey.
And, not long before the White House announced the pardon, Trump surrogate-in-chief Kellyanne Conway quipped pointedly to TV cameras stationed in front of the White House, “Many people think Scooter Libby was the victim of a special counsel run amok.”
Libby, meanwhile, issued a statement saying he was “immensely grateful to President Trump for his gracious decision” to grant the full pardon, adding that he and his family have “suffered under the weight of a terrible injustice” for more than a dozen years.
“To his great credit, President Trump recognized this wrong,” Libby enthused.