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Troubling Signal Seen as Trump Pardons Cheney Sidekick Scooter Libby

14 April, 2018, 22:13 | Author: Lora Ball
  • Mary Altaffer  AP FILE

As Cheney's top aide, he had played a central role in a Bush White House campaign to smear Joseph Wilson III, a former U.S. Ambassador and critic of the Iraq invasion, by leaking the identity of his wife Valerie Plame Wilson, a heroic CIA covert operative working to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

In a statement later, Plame said Trump's comments were not based on the truth, noting that a jury heard the evidence and convicted him, and even Bush refused to pardon him.

President George W. Bush had commuted the sentence but would not grant a pardon.

"Our law firm, diGenova & Toensing, was honored to represent Lewis (Scooter) Libby to request a pardon for the injustice inflicted on him and his family by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald and then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey", Toensing said.

Ms. Plame, if you recall, became a cause celebre when it was revealed her identity as a Central Intelligence Agency operative had been leaked. Comey later became head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation but was sacked by Trump in 2017 and has since written a book highly critical of the president.

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Indeed, Mueller is reportedly pursuing evidence that Trump or his defense counsel "dangled" presidential pardons before Manafort and others.

In announcing his decision, President Trump said that he did not know Libby, but that "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", Trump is quoted as saying in the statement.

The White House said a witness against Libby later changed her version of events and noted that he had a decade of public service and an "unblemished" record since.

The fact that Bush never offered Libby a full pardon created friction between the former president and his vice president.

Still others view it as an ominous sign as indictments continue to grow in Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.

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The pardon was the third for Trump. Many believe that Libby took a fall to protect his boss, Vice President Dick Cheney.

White House aides mentioned which Trump fumed more than Federal Bureau of Investigation raids related to the evaluation on Monday of this office at dwelling Michael Cohen, of the personal lawyer.

Speaking to MSNBC Friday, Plame slammed Trump's pardon, stating that it sent a message "that you can commit crimes against national security and you will be pardoned". House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement, "This pardon sends a troubling signal to the president's allies that obstructing justice will be rewarded". Asked if a pardon was about Comey, Conway said no. Trump has repeatedly called Mueller's probe a "witch hunt" and he and Russian Federation have both denied any wrongdoing. "I'm sure Libby's happy to have it, but the audience here is [former Trump campaign chairman] Paul Manafort, [Trump's personal lawyer] Michael Cohen, and a slew of other people who can incriminate Trump".

NPR political reporter Jessica Taylor contributed.

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