Ex-Cheney aide Libby gets pardon
Move comes amid criticism of former director Comey, who oversaw ’05 case
WASHINGTON – 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 CIA agent.
The pardon marks a stunning epilogue to a story of Bush administration intrigue, as Libby was a central figure in attempts to discredit reports that the government manipulated intelligence in order to justify the invasion of Iraq.
“I don’t know Mr. Libby,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House press secretary. “But for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly. Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life.”
But it also comes amid an FBI investigation into the Trump administration and attempts by Trump and his allies to discredit former FBI director James Comey — who was the Justice Department official with oversight over the Libby case in 2005.
Comey, who was fired by Trump last year, has just written a book calling the president “unethical and untethered to truth.”
Democrats saw the pardon as a transparent attempt by Trump to thwart the investigation into whether Trump associates colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
“This pardon sends a troubling signal to the president’s allies that obstructing justice will be rewarded,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday.
“The suggestion that those who lie under oath may be rewarded with pardons poses a threat to the integrity of the special counsel investigation and to our democracy,” she said.
Libby was the chief of staff to thenVice President Richard Cheney and became a key figure in what became known as the Valerie Plame affair.
Plame’s husband, Joseph Wilson, was a former ambassador asked by the CIA to confirm whether the Iraqi regime had tried to obtain raw uranium known as “yellowcake” from Niger in order to make nuclear weapons. Wilson said he found no such evidence.
Cheney had asserted that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was trying to obtain nuclear weapons. And so Libby told a number of journalists that it was Plame who decided to send her husband on the mission — thus blowing her cover.
But one of those journalists — New York Times reporter Judith Miller — recanted her grand jury testimony in 2015.
Libby was convicted of lying to the FBI and was sentenced to 30 months in prison in 2007.
A month later, Bush commuted his prison sentence — but that fell short of the full and unconditional pardon Cheney had urged Bush to grant.
Lewis “Scooter” Libby was convicted in what became known as the Valerie Plame affair.