The Corner

Waiting for the Libby Pardon — If It Comes

I have a new story up on the pardon countdown for Scooter Libby.  Will it happen?  In Libby circles, that’s The Thing That Cannot Be Spoken.  “Nobody talks about it, nobody says anything,” one prominent Libby supporter told me.  “There’s not much more to say,” says another, “we just kind of wait and watch and hope.”

The president has less than a week left to pardon Libby, whose jail sentence Bush commuted in 2007. (Libby still paid a $250,000 fine.) But even though it’s the president’s power alone to pardon, all eyes are on Vice President Cheney, Libby’s old boss. People who paid close attention to the case are looking for any sort of signal from Cheney that something is up, and they’re getting nothing. “I’ve seen the VP recently, and he doesn’t talk about this stuff — never would,” says the first Libby ally. “But we all assume — ‘we’ meaning people who know the case and who know Scooter — that the VP has interceded with the president and made his pitch. It would be irrational not to assume that.”

That seems likely, but unless you’re Dick Cheney, or George Bush, or White House counsel Fred Fielding, it’s probably not possible to know, because no one in that tightest of inner circles is talking. On January 7, for example, Cheney met with a small group of conservative journalists at the vice president’s residence. Asked whether he was pushing for a pardon for Libby, Cheney replied that he is “a huge fan of Scooter’s,” but “the question of a pardon is — really falls within the president’s purview, and his alone.”

“So you’re not offering any advice?”

“That’s as much as I’m going to say.”

“Do you think Scooter is innocent?”

“I don’t want to discuss the case.”

Then there is the question of what role Libby himself has played in the pardon speculation. It appears the answer is none. We know that he has not gone through the regular pardon channels at the Justice Department; a department spokesman told me that, as of Monday, the Office of the Pardon Attorney had not received a clemency petition from Libby. But Libby’s is precisely the kind of case that the Justice Department’s procedures are not meant to address; for one thing, not enough time has passed since his 2007 conviction for him to qualify.  If Libby is pardoned, it will be because George W. Bush has decided to follow the example of his father, who pardoned several former Bush I administration officials after the Iran-Contra affair.

Whether Libby has spoken privately with Cheney is unknown. But this seems to be a case in which all the players feel strongly and say very little. Everybody knows a pardon would be enormously valuable to Libby. It could be that there really isn’t much to discuss.

Byron York is a former White House correspondent for National Review.

Most Popular

Media

The Unseemly Urge to Excuse Jeffrey Toobin

Jeffrey Toobin, legal analyst for CNN and The New Yorker, was suspended from his jobs and subjected to a round of public mockery for visibly exposing himself while masturbating on a Zoom call with New Yorker colleagues. The call was designed to role-play post-election scenarios for a contested election; Toobin ... Read More
Media

The Unseemly Urge to Excuse Jeffrey Toobin

Jeffrey Toobin, legal analyst for CNN and The New Yorker, was suspended from his jobs and subjected to a round of public mockery for visibly exposing himself while masturbating on a Zoom call with New Yorker colleagues. The call was designed to role-play post-election scenarios for a contested election; Toobin ... Read More

Biden Can’t Tax the Rich

Joe Biden’s tax plan is based on a deathless myth: that taxes are actually paid in economic terms by those upon whom they legally fall. The obviousness of this nonsense is clear enough if you put the proposition into plain English: “Don’t you worry, now, we’re not going to raise taxes on you, Bubba — ... Read More

Biden Can’t Tax the Rich

Joe Biden’s tax plan is based on a deathless myth: that taxes are actually paid in economic terms by those upon whom they legally fall. The obviousness of this nonsense is clear enough if you put the proposition into plain English: “Don’t you worry, now, we’re not going to raise taxes on you, Bubba — ... Read More

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More
Elections

How Trump Should Approach the Final Debate

The so-called mainstream polls of the swing states show the race narrowing. If the trend continues at the current rate, President Trump could poll even in two weeks—in addition to the “other” polls that show him near there already. So Trump’s mission at the final debate on Thursday is to continue to ... Read More
Elections

How Trump Should Approach the Final Debate

The so-called mainstream polls of the swing states show the race narrowing. If the trend continues at the current rate, President Trump could poll even in two weeks—in addition to the “other” polls that show him near there already. So Trump’s mission at the final debate on Thursday is to continue to ... Read More