Our president has issued a pardon for Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the 2007 exposure of former CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity.
Libby was chief of staff for then Vice President Dick Cheney, and has claimed that Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald was out-of-bounds in his investigation into Libby.
If it seems like you’ve heard this before, you have.
While the pardon is functionally irrelevant for Libby, who was already spared jail time by President George W. Bush, it does have implications for our current political state of affairs.
Some have argued that pardoning Libby was in fact the correct thing to do, but have allowed that the president may not have done it for the right reasons.
Stan Crock, who worked as a consultant for Libby in 2008, argues in an opinion piece for the Washington Post that both Democrats and Republicans mischaracterized the investigation and that ultimately Libby was charged for crimes he didn’t commit.
“So the jury convicted Libby of lying to cover up crimes he didn’t commit (leaking to Cooper and Miller) to protect someone he wasn’t protecting (Cheney). Really?” – Stan Crock
Others, however, are less concerned with the morality of the president’s decision to pardon Libby and more with the implications the action has on the presidential power to pardon.
Jennifer Ruben, in another opinion piece for the Washington Post, wrote that she, too, questioned the accuracy of Libby’s charges, but that, “Trump’s pardon of Libby means we are now at risk of a constitutional standoff concerning the pardon power.”
Because we already have evidence supporting offers of pardons for Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort by the president’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, this latest move further elevates concerns that the current administration may preemptively pardon Cohen, thereby effectively excluding him from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Basically, all of this shows that our president is willing to use his power to pardon to influence people involved in the Mueller investigation to testify in his favor.