President Trump today announced that he is granting a full pardon to I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, who was convicted in 2007 of lying to the FBI about his role in the leak of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame’s identity to the media during the debate in the run-up to the war in Iraq.
President Bush had already commuted Libby’s 30-month jail sentence, and both his law license and voting rights have since been restored, but conservatives have been calling for a full pardon for some time now. Libby is represented by the husband-and-wife legal team of Victoria Toensing and Joe DiGenova, who were at one point considered as potential lawyers for Trump in the Russia probe, but were rejected either because of conflict of interest or personality conflicts. DiGenova is a frequent Fox News commentator who has also been making news lately by calling for the firing of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. DiGenova might be about to have a very good day. Trump’s new national security adviser, John Bolton, has also long advocated for Libby’s pardon.
As Trump acknowledges in the statement, he does not know Libby personally, and this is a bit of an ironic pardon for him. Libby was accused of leaking classified information to the press, something Trump has often raged against in his own administration. The man once known as “Cheney’s Cheney” for his simpatico relationship with the former vice president was also a key figure in making the case for the invasion of Iraq, a decision Trump has often denounced as idiotic. Perhaps, having recently brought Iraq hawk Bolton aboard and preparing to embark on his own new military adventure in the Middle East, Trump’s views on Bush 43 and his team are softening.