By Dan Calabrese
This has needed to happen for more than 10 years. George W. Bush should have done it.
And it’s about a lot more than just a political operative being let off the hook. In fact, it’s not about that at all.
Lewis “Scooter” Libby was chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney during the period when Patrick Fitzgerald was running wild as special prosecutor on the Valerie Plame matter. If you don’t remember that, let me refresh your memory: Fitzgerald was appointed to look into the matter of who revealed the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame. On the very first day of the investigation, Fitzgerald knew that it was State Department official Richard Armitage, and that Armitage’s actions were not criminal. Nevertheless, the investigation went on for more than a year as Fitzgerald pursued various people for process crimes.
Libby was nabbed for contradictory statements he made in testimony, which he always insisted resulted from mere confusion in his memory. But Fitzgerald dropped the hammer and Libby was convicted of lying to the FBI and obstruction of justice. Cheney was always determined in his defense of Libby, and wanted Bush to pardon him before leaving office. Bush agreed to commute Libby’s 30-month sentence, but for whatever reason, did not grant the pardon.
Libby was convicted in 2007 of lying to the FBI and obstruction of justice in the investigation into the leak of the identity of Valerie Plame, a former covert CIA operative. Then-President George Bush commuted Libby’s 30-month sentence, sparing him prison time, but didn’t pardon him.
After Libby claimed that he couldn’t have been the source of the leak, multiple people came forward to testify that they learned of Plame’s identity from Libby prior to when Libby said he had first received the information.
At trial, Libby claimed to have simply forgotten he actually learned about the identity from Cheney a month before he said he had.
Since the conviction, Libby has since had his law license restored and former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell restored his voting rights in 2013.
Both ABC and the Washington Post cite sources who say Trump has signed off on the pardon. I hope their sources are right. This is long overdue.
And I wonder if Trump is sending a message to Robert Mueller by pardoning Libby now. The Mueller investigation of the Russia business is taking on many of the same characteristics of the Fitzgerald fishing expedition. There turned out to be no underlying crime for Fitzgerald to investigate. The revelation of Plame’s identity by Armitage to columnist Robert Novak was a non-issue because she was no longer working undercover, and contrary to what the public was led to believe, Fitzgerald had no mystery to solve with respect to who revealed her name. He knew from the very beginning.
But special prosecutors always find reasons to expand their probes. They start out focused on a particular matter, but along the way they discover other trails they want to follow, and for whatever reasons Justice Department officials and presidents feel they can’t rein them in. Convictions usually fall under the category of “lying” or “obstruction,” but almost never of the crime we were told at the outset was being investigated.
(And to be fair, I now believe Ken Starr also was allowed to go too far by looking into the Monica thing rather than being limited to Whitewater. I did not think so at the time, but having seen how out-of-control these “independent” investigations become as a matter of course, I’ve changed my mind about it. I have nothing but contempt for Bill Clinton’s behavior, but Starr should not have been allowed to look into that matter. He should have stuck to his original charge.)
If Trump is taking a stand on behalf of people nabbed by special prosecutors for such process crimes, he may be taking a stand not only for Libby but also for Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos and Mike Flynn as well. As he should. It’s long past time for Mueller to show his cards, if he has any. And if he’s now raiding law offices hoping to yet find something because to this point he’s come up empty, then he deserves to be fired, however much the political class would wail and moan if it happens.
What’s being done to the law, justice and due process is far worse than the phony “constitutional crisis” we’re being told would occur.
At least Scooter Libby is finally getting justice.
Dan writes Christian spiritual warfare novels and does all kinds of other weird things too. Follow all his activity by liking him on Facebook!