Donald Trump just pardoned Scooter Libby, something that even George W. Bush would not do, and the reason he did so has little if anything to do with the merits of Libby’s case. Trump knows he’s descending rapidly in flames where Trump Russia is concerned so he pardoned Libby in an effort to send a message to the likes of Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn and now Michael Cohen as well, that obstruction of justice is not such a big deal and, in the words of Senator Tim Kaine, on twitter, “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”
What Trump’s pardons of Joe Arpaio & Scooter Libby had in common: Both were pardoned for crimes that obstructed justice. So both pardons were signals to DOJ targets from Mike Flynn to Michael Cohen that they needn’t comply with lawful demands that embroil Trump. https://t.co/XCyZz69H1y
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) April 14, 2018
Troubling. Out of nowhere, Trump pardons Cheney's chief of staff ‘Scooter’ Libby, convicted by a special counsel of perjury & obstruction of justice in 2007. Is he sending a message to Mueller, or witnesses? Of all the criminals to pardon….
— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) April 13, 2018
Percentage of Trump's Presidential pardons that were granted to white male Trump supporters who had been charged with obstruction of justice or defying court orders: 100%
1) Joe Arpaio
2) Kristian Saucier
3) Scooter Libby
— Orin Kerr (@OrinKerr) April 13, 2018
Calling @Comey a “proven LEAKER & LIAR” while you’re about to pardon Scooter Libby, who leaked the identity of a covert CIA employee and was convicted for lying about it to the FBI — well, that’s quite a thing.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 13, 2018
The President pardons Scooter Libby, someone convicted of obstruction of justice and lying. Since the President admits knowing little of Libby beyond what he “hears”, is this his way of signaling the kind of qualities he is looking for in others?
— Adam Schiff (@AdamSchiffCA) April 13, 2018
Perjury before a grand jury is a pardonable offense. Hint hint ….
Mueller investigation witnesses now hear that message loud and clear.
Official: Trump expected to pardon Scooter Libby https://t.co/0AbhfGUvsW
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) April 13, 2018
Trump pardoned Scooter Libby because he’s trying to reassure his people that he’ll pardon them too if they lie to the FBI for him.
Message to those people:
Trump’s getaway car – in his mind – is a scooter. No passenger seats.
Just do the right thing and talk.
— Jason Kander (@JasonKander) April 13, 2018
There was no pressing reason for Trump to revive this matter. “I don’t know Mr. Libby, but for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly,” the president said in a statement. That was hardly a rousing explanation. But there is this: Libby was prosecuted by US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who had been appointed as special counsel in 2003 by a deputy attorney general named…James Comey. Whatever Trump’s intent, the Libby pardon was a raised middle-finger to the fellow who has just compared Trump to a Mafia chieftain. It also sent a troubling signal that this president is not offended by those who stonewall the FBI and special counsels. Get the picture?
Libby has long been a martyr for neocons and conservatives who have claimed he was the innocent victim of a political prosecution. (What a coincidence.) But his case was serious, for the main issue was whether he could get away with lying to federal investigators in order to protect his boss, the vice president. This episode is highly relevant today.