President Donald Trump finally pardoned Scooter Libby on Friday, and it was a decision long overdue.
Lewis “Scooter” Libby served as Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney under the G.W. Bush administration. Libby was convicted in 2007 of lying to the FBI about leaking the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald pursued the obstruction of justice case against Libby, alleging he made false and misleading statements to FBI agents and a federal grand jury concerning how he first came to learn of Plame’s status as an agency employee.
Libby learned of Plame’s CIA affiliation during a telephone call on July 10, 2003, with Tim Russert, who anchored “Meet the Press” for NBC News, the former chief off staff initially told investigators. Russert and Libby never discussed Plame’s agency status prior to Novak’s disclosure, the NBC anchor testified as best he could recall.
To prove Libby was aware of Plame’s status before July 10, Fitzgerald called The New York Times reporter Judith Miller to testify about her conversations with Libby in the early months of 2003. Libby discussed Plame’s agency affiliation with her prior to July 10, Miller testified. If true, this would indicate Libby made false statements to the FBI and a grand jury. Fitzgerald himself insisted this testimony was crucial to the conviction in his closing arguments to the jury.
But in 2015, Miller recanted her testimony. Miller now believes her statements — essential to convicting Libby — were unsound and Fitzgerald coaxed her into making inaccurate statements under oath, she wrote in her 2015 memoir, “The Story: A Reporter’s Journey.”
With Miller’s testimony recanted, Libby has been reinstated to the bar in Washington, D.C. that Libby had “credible evidence” he was innocent, the D.C. court of appeals ruled. Trump’s pardon is now just a formality, erasing the stain on Libby’s record, and allowing someone regarded widely by all parties as a good and decent man to move on.
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