Early in his presidency, Mr. Trump made the shocking action of pardoning controversial former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio was found guilty in July on criminal contempt charges, which resulted from his refusal to stop imprisoning suspected undocumented immigrants. It looks like now he is ready to issue another pardon.
It was first reported on Thursday that Trump had plans to pardon Scooter J. Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. He has apparently been considering it for several months. According to ABC News:
‘The move would mark another controversial pardon for Trump and could raise questions as an increasing number of the president’s political allies have landed themselves in legal jeopardy. The White House has repeatedly said that no pardons are currently on the table for people caught up in the Russia investigation.’
Then, on Friday morning, it was confirmed that the speculation is correct – the president will indeed pardon Libby.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) April 13, 2018
However, the probable reason for the pardon is cause to anger many. While talking with reporters, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway was asked if she thought it was a good idea to pardon Libby. Conway said that Trump wasn’t trying to send a message that it was okay to lie to the FBI, but said:
‘Many people think that Scooter Libby was a victim of a special counsel gone amok.’
To which a reporter then asked:
‘A special counsel appointed by James Comey. Is this about James Comey?’
Conway responded smiling and said:
‘No. James Comey is an author.’
Trump seems to be making a statement that he is willing to also pardon those whom he believes may have been wrongfully caught up in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos and national security adviser Michael Flynn have both pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Perhaps, they are next for pardons. No one should put it past Mr. Trump and it wouldn’t be so shocking if it happened.
Amid reports Pres. Trump is poised to pardon Scooter Libby, Kellyanne Conway says "Many people think that Scooter Libby was a victim of a special counsel gone amok." https://t.co/AKRYx5xQNw pic.twitter.com/b1thRVreBe
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) April 13, 2018
It also makes sense that the president would do this to take revenge on Comey, especially after the morning Twitter tantrum he unleashed on the former FBI director.
In 2007, Libby was convicted on charges of lying to the FBI and obstruction of justice, which was associated with the leak of the identity of Valerie Plame, a former covert CIA operative. Former President George W. Bush commuted Libby’s 30-month prison sentence but did not 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.’
During the trial, Libby claimed to have forgotten that he learned the woman’s identity from Cheney a month before he had.
According to ABC:
‘Since the conviction, Libby has since had his law license restored and former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell restored his voting rights in 2013.
‘Many conservatives have been urging a pardon for Libby, including attorneys Joe diGenova and his wife, Victoria Toensing.’
This pardon will mark Trump’s second pardon of a controversial figure.
Featured image by Chris Kleponis – Pool/Getty Images