President Donald Trump’s reported consideration to pardon former George W. Bush staffer Scooter Libby may be sending a message to both special counsel Robert Mueller and former FBI Director James Comey.
— Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) April 13, 2018
Conservatives have long argued that Libby was himself unfairly targeted by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald who was coincidentally appointed by James Comey in 2003 to investigate the leak of the name of then CIA employee Valarie Plame. Libby was later prosecuted and convicted of lying, despite findings that he himself was not responsible for leaking Plame’s identity.
“False testimony was coerced by Jim Comey’s friend Patrick Fitzgerald and Comey was part of the team to destroy the vice president of the United States and it didn’t happen,” lawyer Joe DiGenova told to The Daily Caller previously in November 2016. He continued, “Comey and Fitzgerald tried to frame Scooter Libby, and they did, but then they didn’t get it done. And then of course that idiot George W. Bush didn’t give him a pardon he only commuted his sentence.”
The controversy surrounding Libby’s conviction, conservative charges that he was railroaded largely because of his association with the Bush White House, and the involvement of Comey is striking in its parallel to the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Mueller’s appointment as special counsel followed a leak from Comey to The New York Times over private communications between himself and Trump in which he claimed he was asked to give a loyalty pledge to the President. Comey later admitted before Congress the leak was intended to spark the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and alleged obstruction of justice by Trump.
The ongoing investigation however has now strayed much farther. Trump has railed against the Mueller probe for straying into financial matters of his personal lawyer, when in his view the entire investigation is supposed to be limited to Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Trump has repeatedly characterized the sprawling investigation as a “witch hunt” and noted that the raid on his personal lawyers office was “an attack on our country.” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders explained to reporters previously that the president views inquiries into matters outside of anything to do with the Russia investigation as the witch hunt element of the Mueller probe.
Libby’s attorney Victoria Toensing pushed back to The Daily Caller on any message being sent to special counsel by considering a pardon.
“This is a pardon on its own merits, the president has the power to issue pardons on its own merits,” she said emphatically.
National Security attorney Bradley Moss, critic of such a pardon, countered to TheDC that “this is the President publicly stating that he will pardon people no matter what the legal experts say about the wisdom of such an action, and is daring Mueller and his political opponents to try and stop him.”
Judith Miller, a former reporter for The New York Times and herself a central figure in the Libby case, said Friday on Fox News that Trump was compelled to consider Libby’s pardon while considering Toensing and her lawyer Joe DiGenova to join his legal team and handle the Mueller probe.