Trump pardons Scooter Libby for perjury at C.I.A. Leakage case


After Mr. Trump's plan to issue clemency appeared on Thursday night, the president's critics quickly interpreted the move as a signal from the president that he would protect those who refuse to confront their bosses, such as Mr. Libby. it is presumed that he has not betrayed Mr. Cheney. Mr. Trump has not ruled out pardons in the Russian investigation.

Mr. Trump had not shown any particular interest in Mr. Libby's case before. In 2015, during his campaign for the White House, Mr. Trump was asked if he would forgive Mr. Libby and refused to say, calling it an irrelevant issue. It was not clear when Mr. Trump would issue the pardon, which was first reported by ABC News.

Mr. Libby was not charged with the leak itself and has argued for a long time that his conviction was based on an innocent difference in the memories between him and several witnesses, not in an attempt to deceive the investigators. Although Bush's clemency order prevented him from going to prison, Mr. Libby's sentence remained intact and, as a result, he was disqualified as a lawyer. He was not reinstated in the bar until 2016.

Among the Bush administration allies who have argued he was unfairly treated is John R. Bolton, an ally of Cheney's who served as Bush's ambbadador to the United States. . Nations and started this week as Mr. Trump's national security adviser. Other allies of Mr. Libby include Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing, a team of lawyers who spoke recently about going to work for Trump before making a decision about a conflict with the client.

The pardon is equivalent to official pardon, not exoneration. A pardon does not mean innocence, but it eliminates many consequences of a conviction, such as any effect on the right to vote, hold an elective office or be part of a jury. As a practical matter, those who seek forgiveness expect it to erase or alleviate the stigma of a criminal conviction.

Mr. Libby's accusation became a symbol of the polarizing policy of the Iraq war during the Bush administration. Mrs. Wilson's husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, was a former diplomat who wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in 2003 implying that Mr. Cheney ignored the evidence that argued against the conclusion that Iraq was actively seeking to build nuclear weapons

To undermine Mr. Wilson's criticisms, government officials told reporters that he had been sent on a fact-finding mission to Niger because his wife worked for the CIA, not by order of Mr. Cheney. But federal law prohibits the disclosure of the identities of C.I.A. The officials in certain circumstances and the leak caused a special investigation of the prosecutor.

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Accused of lying to investigators about his interactions with journalists, Mr. Libby insisted that he simply remembered events in another way. But his version of events clashed with the testimony of eight other people, including administration officials, and a jury found him guilty. Bush decided that the prison sentence was "excessive," but said he would not replace his trial with the jury when it came to the issue of Mr. Libby's guilt.

Mr. Defenders of Libby argued that Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, went too far because he had already discovered that the first administration official to divulge Mrs. Wilson's identity to a journalist was Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state in the first Bush term. , who was not charged They also argued that Ms. Wilson was not disguised at that time and that her employment was well known. Mrs. Wilson has denied that she recommended her husband for the mission to Niger and said that her career as a C.I.A. the officer "ran out in an instant" once his identity was leaked.

The case put to the test the limits of journalistic independence. Judith Miller, then a Times reporter, went to prison for 85 days instead of revealing that Mr. Libby had argued with Ms. Wilson. She was released after Mr. Libby released her from any pledge of confidentiality.

The issue became a major point of contention between Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney in the last days of the administration in late 2008 and early 2009. Mr. Cheney repeatedly pressed Mr. Bush to go beyond its commutation and issue a total pardon, raising it so often that the president was irritated by the matter.

Mr. Bush badigned the White House attorneys to examine the case, but was advised that the jury had sufficient grounds to convict Mr. Libby and that the president rejected Mr. Cheney's request. Bush told attendees that he suspected Mr. Libby had thought he was protecting Mr. Cheney, the real target of the investigation.

Mr. Cheney yelled at Mr. Bush. "You are leaving a good man wounded on the battlefield," he told her when he was informed of the decision.

Mr. Bush was surprised. It was probably the hardest thing Mr. Cheney ever said to him during his eight years in office together and he was destined to attack Bush's sense of loyalty to his own troops in wartime.

"The comment stung" Mr. Bush wrote in his memoirs. "In eight years, I had never seen Dick like this, or even close to that, I was worried that the friendship we had built was about to be severely affected, at best."

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The case has its connections with Mr. Trump because Mr. Fitzgerald was a friend of James B. Comey, who was then the badistant attorney general who badigned him the investigation after the attorney general recused himself. Mr. Cheney always suspected that Mr. Comey was taking revenge for a dispute between them about the legality of a surveillance program.

Mr. Comey would become the director of F.B.I. who was fired by Mr. Trump last year in the middle of the Russian investigation. His dismissal led Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who was in charge after General Attorney Jeff Sessions' challenge, to appoint Robert S. Mueller III as a special attorney to take over the investigation.

Mr. Trump has been remarkably conservative about the use of his clemency power. Before Friday, he had only issued two pardons and had only commuted a sentence in almost 15 months in office, according to the Justice Department. Most notably, he forgave Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff whose repression against illegal immigrants earned him a conviction for criminal contempt.

His record is more or less in line with the last three presidents, Barack Obama, Bush and Bill Clinton, all of whom did not issue pardons or commutations in their first year and a half in office.

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