President Trump took the extraordinary step Friday of overruling the judgment of his predecessor, George W. Bush, and granting a pardon to I. Lewis Libby Jr, who served as chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.
(Bush had previously commuted Libby’s sentence, but did not issue a full pardon.)
Libby, known as Scooter, was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in 2007 in connection with the leak of a CIA officer’s identity.
In pardoning Libby, Trump, who complains almost daily about leaks, is in the peculiar position of pardoning a man convicted of involvement in a national security leak.
“I don’t know Mr. Libby, but for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly,” President Trump said in a statement from the White House. (Full statement below.) “Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life.'”
Here’s the statement from the White House:
“Today, President Donald J. Trump issued an Executive Grant of Clemency (Full Pardon) to I. ‘Scooter’ Lewis Libby, former Chief of Staff to Vice President Richard Cheney, for convictions stemming from a 2007 trial. President George W. Bush commuted Mr. Libby’s sentence shortly after his conviction. Mr. Libby, nevertheless, paid a $250,000 fine, performed 400 hours of community service, and served two years of probation.
“In 2015, one of the key witnesses against Mr. Libby recanted her testimony, stating publicly that she believes the prosecutor withheld relevant information from her during interviews that would have altered significantly what she said. The next year, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals unanimously reinstated Mr. Libby to the bar, reauthorizing him to practice law. The Court agreed with the District of Columbia Disciplinary Counsel, who stated that Mr. Libby had presented ‘credible evidence’ in support of his innocence, including evidence that a key prosecution witness had ‘changed her recollection of the events in question.’
“Before his conviction, Mr. Libby had rendered more than a decade of honorable service to the Nation as a public servant at the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the White House. His record since his conviction is similarly unblemished, and he continues to be held in high regard by his colleagues and peers.
“In light of these facts, the President believes Mr. Libby is fully worthy of this pardon. ‘I don’t know Mr. Libby,’ said President Trump, ‘but for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly. Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life.'”