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Scooter Libby Aside, Presidential Pardons Are Good and Trump Should Issue Even More of Them

"I don't know Mr. Libby, but for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly."

LibbyTom Williams/CQ Roll Call/NewscomPresident Donald Trump announced today that he is pardoning Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a vice presidential aide convicted in 2005 of obstructing justice. Thanks to a commutation from then-President George W. Bush, Libby served no time, though friends of Libby had always hoped to win him a full pardon.

Trump has now delivered just that. Given the timing, and given the familiar details of the Libby case, Trump's reason for doing so seems obvious: He wanted to send a very clear message that he is perfectly willing to pardon government officials who stay loyal to the president in the face of Bob Mueller's investigation.

That's wrong. But issuing pardons, as a general matter, is not. In fact, Trump should issue even more of them.

I say that even though the Libby pardon look like a craven political move. Libby was charged with lying to officials investigating an incident in which a CIA officer's covert status was leaked to the media. The officer, Valerie Plame, believed members of the Bush administration had orchestrated the leak to punish her husband, Joseph Wilson, a vocal critic of the Iraq War. Investigators never proved a definitive connection, but they did build an obstruction case against Libby. Many believe that Libby took a fall to protect his boss, Vice President Dick Cheney. (The special prosecutor in that case, Patrick Fitzgerald, was appointed by then Deputy Attorney General James Comey.)

"I don't know Mr. Libby, but for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly," said Trump in a statement. "Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life."

Trump has also made clear that he thinks Mueller's investigation into his campaign's possible collusion with Russia is unfair. Pardoning Libby certainly seems like one way for Trump to discreetly assure any supporters touched by the Mueller investigation that he will take care of them in the long run—if they cover for the president.

It's possible to be both underwhelmed by the Russia probe and worried about Trump's efforts to thwart it. An overzealous state intelligence apparatus is a threat to the rule of law, and so is a president who does anything he can to keep himself and his cronies out of jail.

But all that aside, it would be a terrible shame if Trump's decision to pardon Libby had the effect of tainting pardons in the public's eye. Pardons and commutations are a good and useful tool to free people who don't belong in prison. President Barack Obama, for instance, commuted the sentences of 330 federal inmates, many of whom had received incredibly harsh sentences for minor drug violations. He also commuted the sentence of former U.S. Army analyst Chelsea Manning, who had been convicted of disclosing classified materials. Manning had indeed broken the law, but she had done so in order to expose a greater evil—wrongdoing by the U.S. government. Short of a full pardon, commutation of Manning's sentence was the best way to handle the situation.

Instead of pardoning obnoxious and objectively evil political supports like Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Trump should consider pardons and commutations for nonviolent drug offenders, whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, and Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, whose life sentence was vastly disproportionate to his crimes.

Photo Credit: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Newscom

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  • BestUsedCarSales||

    objectively evil political supports like Sheriff Joe Arpaio

    Don't start using the word objectively as a generic intensifier.

  • ||

    That would be literally the end of grammar.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Semantics.

  • Shirley Knott||

    What? You're anti-semantic?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I did Phonology in school.

  • What Smells Like Pee?||

    Title IX violation no doubt.

  • Shirley Knott||

    There's a time and a place for that, and it's college [/chef]

  • FlameCCT||

    You're dating yourself if you were "Hooked on Phonics"!!!

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    He is ant-semantic. He understands hive minds.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    That type of thing kills me.

  • vek||

    How is he objectively evil for trying to enforce US immigration law??? I mean it's not his sole responsibility, but I believe all law enforcement has an obligation to tell the appropriate law enforcement agency about wrongdoings they come across.

  • ||

    Instead of pardoning obnoxious and objectively evil political supports like Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Trump should consider pardons and commutations for nonviolent drug offenders, whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, and Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, whose life sentence was vastly disproportionate to his crimes.

    I submit that every H&R post should end with a masturbatory fantasy.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    What's wrong with ending 'em with the inevitably leaked video of two Russian prostitutes pissing on each other while a flabby old man chortles with glee (while chugging Purell)?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    This guy gets it.

  • John||

    If such a video exists, it hasn't been leaked out of kindness I guess. It is pretty hard to imagine there being a Trump sex tape out there and it not already hit the net.

  • Eidde||

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    [inserts brilliant donkey punch joke that gives Eddie a flash of universal insight ending with a satori buzz right down to the fingernails]

  • markm23||

    We were talking about the sex lives of a Republican, not about Democrats...

  • shawn_dude||

    A kindness to the rest of us, I assure you. This is the TMI Presidency, for sure.

  • What Smells Like Pee?||

    Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland|4.13.18 @ 4:12PM|#

    What's wrong with ending 'em with the inevitably leaked video of two Russian prostitutes pissing on each other while a flabby old man chortles with glee (while chugging Purell)?

    No one cares about your sex life.

  • John||

    It's possible to be both underwhelmed by the Russia probe and worried about Trump's efforts to thwart it. An overzealous state intelligence apparatus is a threat to the rule of law, and so is a president who does anything he can to keep himself and his cronies out of jail.

    If the probe is bullshit and the intelligence community out of control, then how is the President keeping the people around him out of jail a bad thing? If those people deserved to go to jail, the investigation wouldn't be bullshit and the intel community not so out of control. So, no Robby, it is not possible for it to be all those things.

    And Libby was convicted of the crime of "lying to investigators" about a subject that was not a crime. Such convictions represent one of the most egregious abuses of power that DOJ engages in. So, pardoning anyone convicted by such means is a good thing. And something every libertarian should be supporting.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Since when do libertarians accept pointers from the likes of this guy?

  • John||

    You are the dumbest human being in the world. Why don't you sit this one out and let the adults talk for a while there chief.

  • Violent Sociopath||

    Concern troll is very, very concerned.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Since when do libertarians accept pointers from the likes of this guy?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    You forgot your tagline: "Cling on, buttcheeks. SQUAAAWWK!"

  • shawn_dude||

    Uh, you mean like consensual sex with an adult intern?

    I (and everyone else on the planet) had to sit through years of hearings about one dude who didn't want to admit he cheated on his wife with an intern in a blue dress. But conservatives ate it up and foamed at the mouth over it. Well, they pwned themselves onto one heck of a karma train here with Trump, didn't they?

    It's hard for me to take the high road while gaping at the sheer volume of crow being served.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Oh fuck off Shawn. If Clinton weren't a leftist darling, you would all be screaming how there is no way an intern could truly consent to any sexual activity with the most powerful man in the world, and how he should be impeached. Your hypocrisy knows no bounds, which is typical of you progtards.

  • hello.||

    Except the part where Clinton's actual misconduct was perjury.

    Remember you guys are the ones who want summary execution for the crime of lying to investigators. Even when the investigators can't agree they were lied to.

  • Ecoli||

    Any other federal employee who banged an intern in the workplace would have been fired, and still would be fired today. A teacher who screws her adult student can be imprisoned.

    I agree that consensual sex is a private matter, though. If the lecher had simply gotten a room at the Trump hotel in DC so that he could defile Monica at his own expense, I would be more sympathetic.

    Special prosecutors are a terrible idea.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    "And Libby was convicted of the crime of "lying to investigators" about a subject that was not a crime. Such convictions represent one of the most egregious abuses of power that DOJ engages in. So, pardoning anyone convicted by such means is a good thing."
    Yeah, I wouldn't shed a tear if Sheriff Joe got colon cancer instead of a pardon but Libby was just a victim of the federal 3 felonies a day scam. And I say that as someone who opposed GWB's war from the beginning. Robby finds Trump's motives obvious here. I don't know and frankly don't care. But I think this pardon is well deserved.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    If I were Trump, I'd officially offer Hillary Clinton a presidential pardon, with the tagline, America Forgives You.

    Then sit back and watch the ensuing brawl in the media.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    That's n+1 dimensional chess, though, which isn't what we're playing here.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    You give me too much credit. I'd consider that... no, checkers too complicated... dodgeball, yeah, dodgeball where I whack Hillary in the back of the head before the game starts, then I sit down on the bleachers.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    In this equation n can be ≤1, you know.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Whacking people is tiring.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    That sentence is missing a certain....preposition? Oh boy, this joke turned out to be a lot more complicated than I anticipated.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    I think we all learned something this week.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Yes, that should be a Friday afternoon feature. Everyone list one thing they learned this week.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Okay, now that's funny.

  • Devastator||

    I was a Hillary voter, but right here is funny, I don't care ya are.

  • Jerryskids||

    "I don't know Mr. Libby, but for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly," said Trump in a statement. "Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life."

    See, a lesser man might have hedged his actions by saying something like "After all due consideration and a thorough investigation of the facts of the case..." but Trump has the balls to just straight up admit that he has no idea whether or not Scooter deserves a pardon. Personally, I suspect any grown-ass man that goes by the name "Scooter" is probably a shitweasel on a par with somebody named "Chip" or "Skippy" or "The Chadster".

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Or Brody, or Todd.

  • FlameCCT||

    Or Robby?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Just because you tie a sweater around your neck doesn't make you a bad person.

  • John||

    Or have one of those utterly ridiculous names that only a certain type of upper-class twit seems to have. What is it with prep school boys and their idiotic nicknames? You stop calling yourself "scooter" when your classroom no longer has a chalk monitor.

  • What Smells Like Pee?||

    Punch. A grown man allows people to call him Punch.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Or his son Pinch.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Just because you tie a sweater around your neck doesn't make you a bad person.

    There are few thing worse. Like being a murderous cannibal clown.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Hiw about a grown man who goes by "Robby" professionally?

  • Emotional Opposition Animal||

    Do pardons have to be "deserved"?

    Nixon? Vietnam War draft dodgers? Confederate soldiers and generals?

  • John||

    http://www.nytimes.com/2018/04.....eport.html

    The McCabe IG report is out. Mccabe turns out to be a liar and a criminal. Let me get my shocked face.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    By god, if we keep trying we'll eventually make the FBI honest.

  • John||

    But the media assured me it was unfair this clown was fired. Did they lie?

  • ||

    He earned that pension! He showed up to work and did what he was told...except when he didn't. But he EARNED it...especially since he brought is politics to work with him. Did I say HE EARNED IT? 'cause he's a fucking American icon hero God!

    Or something.

  • Ecoli||

    Isn't lying to the FBI a crime? Why has McCabe not been charged?

  • Ndogg||

    Here we go again. Posting links to articles that have nothing to do with the article tied to this comment section and nobody seems to think that's strange.

  • ||

    I'm commenting on Hit & Run in order to buy sex.

    Anybody got a problem with that? I'm asking you, FOSTA/SESTA!

  • Eidde||

    I never thought I could make big money on the Internet by whoring myself, but click here and see how you can get richer than Croesus...

    /joke

  • Don't look at me.||

    You still owe me from last time.

  • Eidde||

    Of course Obama should have pardoned Chelsea Manning. The crimes were committed by a different person with a different sex - Bradley Manning. They had the *wrong person* in prison!

    /sarc

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I thought you were OBL for a second.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    OBL died in December of 2001.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    But then who was post?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...Trump should consider pardons and commutations for nonviolent drug offenders, whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, and Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, whose life sentence was vastly disproportionate to his crimes.

    And I should have winged unicorns giving me foot massages.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    objectively evil

    Oh stop it, Rico.

  • John||

    Rico is getting his histrionic millenial on.

  • Mickey Rat||

    It was definitively proven that Richard Armitage was the one who leaked Plame's name and that she was not a covert agent at the time. So Libby did not do it and it was not an illegal act in the first place (which was why Armitage was never charged).

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Libby was found guilty of guilty on four felony counts of making false statements to the FBI, lying to a grand jury and obstruction.

    He was not found guilty of leaking the name of anyone.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Gotta have guilty in there twice for effect.

  • Emotional Opposition Animal||

    As usual, the crime that the investigation was supposedly looking for never happened, so they had to create some.

    That "false statements" statute needs to be restricted to cases when the false statement actually prevents or delays the discovery of evidence of a real crime. As it stands now, the feds can prosecute you even if they already knew your answer was false before you gave it.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "Show me the man, and I'll show you the crime"

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""The report says, "she traveled at least seven times to more than ten times." When overseas Plame traveled undercover, "sometimes in true name and sometimes in alias -- but always using cover -- whether official or non-official (NOC) -- with no ostensible relationship to the CIA."""

    Maybe she was

  • FlameCCT||

    She was under the covers?

  • markm23||

    Armitage got off because he convinced investigators the revelation was inadvertent. (Even though she was no longer a covert agent, this WAS a big deal if it cast suspicion on the people in foreign countries that she contacted while covert.) I have my doubts as to whether someone who wasn't a VIP could accidentally reveal such a secret and not be convicted of a felony. Example: the sailor who took a few selfies on his boat, which accidentally had classified equipment in the background. I doubt that this had any possibility of doing as much damage as blowing Plame's cover, but that sailor was headed for a 5 year prison sentence the last I heard.

    But the first question the whole Plame affair raised for me was, why would anyone at the level of Armitage or Libby know about her covert CIA service in the first place? That's something that should have been known only to her handler and a few intelligence analysts that studied whatever information she collected. Assistants to the National Security Adviser and Secretary of State should have only been seeing sanitized extracts of this intelligence, which did not reveal the sources. Or did they only know (and could only reveal) her work as an analyst?

  • FlameCCT||

    Perhaps because it was common knowledge that Ambassador Wilson's wife, aka Valerie Plame, worked at the CIA?

  • Viney||

    The author would have been more credible if he had more fully related the miscarriage of justice that Scooter Libby suffered....and would have begged the question of the crooked Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald (and if Mueller is following in Fitzgerald's crooked ways).

    Consider that Fitzgerald was to find out WHO leaked Valarie Plame's name as a covert CIA agent ...and if there was a violation of law. (Plame would be 'covered' and it would be illegal to leak her name if she was still 'covert' or had been covert in the past 5 years. She wasn't covert and had not been covert within 5 years...so no violation. ALSO - if the 'leak' was inadvertent....no crime.)

    Turns out that within the first week of the investigation, Richard Armitage of the State Dept, secretly met with Fitzgerald and confessed that he inadvertently let slip to the press (Robert Novak) - that Plame was the reason her husband had been 'selected' to go to Africa...and he mentioned an open secret - that Plame worked for the CIA.

    Hey - at this point - Fitzgerald could close shop and go home...mission complete - no crime committed and he knew who leaked her name...and that it was inadvertent and she wasn't a 'covered agent' that the law applied to. (end part 1)

  • Viney||

    (Part 2) BUT - this sleazy slimy jerk decided to spend $50 Million in taxpayer funds looking for criminals....and if necessary, to hang people in 'process crimes'...and trying to coerce people into coming up with real or fabricated dirt to 'hang' higher people. Libby had given statements that conflicted with a reporter (Judith Miller)...and rather than consider that Libby had nothing to hide (since he couldn't have been the leaker - since Armitage had already confessed..) - he decided to screw him over to the max....and got a conviction in D.C. (hard core leftist judges and jurors....where Libby's right to bring in testimony about how he was so busy, his recollections weren't lies but confusion, etc...was blocked.)

    Fitzgerald used the power of the state, with unlimited funds - to pursue, like Ahab...small people - in hopes of getting the big people (either Bush or Cheney)...and his actions were totally un-Constitutional and thoroughly depraved! AND - Mueller is acting like Fitzgerald - on steroids.

    Scooter Libby deserves a pardon, he deserves exoneration, he deserves millions of dollars of compensation for wrongful prosecution by a rogue prosecutor who was violating all sorts of policies...paid for out of Fitzgerald's wealth.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    And Mueller is the new Fitzgerald.

  • fdog50||

    The question is, what did Fitzgerald think further pressure on Libby would produce? What if he had told Fitzgerald that he had given Plame's name to Novak? Could have happened if, for example, after Armitage gave the name and Novak called Libby and asked for confirmation on whether or not Wilson's wife was named Valerie Plame and if she worked for the CIA? What would he have done, prosecuted Libby but not Armitage? And what about Armitage's boss, the "profile in courage" that is Colin Powell? Why did he sit back and watch this happen?

  • Tony||

    "Donald Trump has now corrected the greatest injustice ever to occur during our administration."
    --Dick Cheney

  • Myshkin78||

    That's accurate

  • Ecoli||

    Trump is a hero. A great American hero. Progressives harmed most!

  • XM||

    Now I'm hoping that Trump will pardon the silk road founder.

    A man spends a life in prison despite killing no one.

  • FlameCCT||

    Why does this hope remind me of snowballs and hell?

  • fdog50||

    Trump should also say he will pardon Richard Armitage, who was the man that actually gave Plame's name to Robert Novak.

  • GamerFromJump||

    Can Snowden be pardoned, given that he had the good sense to book it before he could be tossed into a dungeon?

    But yeah, James Comey deserves jail more than Scooter Libby.

  • FlameCCT||

    Yes, Snowden could receive a pardon or other action like commutation of sentence before even being tried.

    That's one I wouldn't recommend but YMMV.

  • pemaintoto||

    Ingat kalian adalah orang-orang yang menginginkan eksekusi ringkasan untuk kejahatan berbohong kepada simpatisan. Bahkan ketika para penyidik ​​tidak setuju mereka dibohongi

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