NY Daily News · by Editorials · April 14, 2018
If Friday’s presidential pardon of Scooter Libby were written into a screenplay, it would be rejected by script doctors for being too on-the-nose.
President Trump has just wiped clean the record of Dick Cheney’s onetime top aide, who in 2007 was convicted by a jury — after prosecution by a special counsel — of perjury, obstructing justice and making false statements to the FBI as they investigated the leak of a covert CIA agent’s identity.
Valerie Plame’s name came out in an attempt to discredit her husband as he questioned a key piece of evidence the Bush administration used to make the case for war in Iraq. Libby then lied to investigators and a grand jury about how she was outed.
So Trump has done a big favor for a suspected leaker and proven liar at the exact moment he wages a scorched-earth campaign against one former FBI director, calling him a “proven leaker and a liar.” And daily lambasts as a partisan hack another former FBI director, a man of unimpeachable integrity who is patiently combing through evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Coming from a President who never uses a Beretta when he can use a Howitzer, there is no way to read the pardon as anything but a screaming signal to those in his circle who find themselves in threat of federal legal jeopardy. Don’t cooperate with the authorities, the President is saying without saying it: I have the pardon pen, and it’s uncapped.
What moves the act from obvious to downright ostentatious is that Libby faces no further legal jeopardy. In 2007, as he got ready to serve 30 months in prison, President George W. Bush commuted his sentence. In 2016, he regained his license to practice law.
The coup de grâce is how hilarously the act of forgiveness clashes with Trump’s supposed anger, frequently expressed during his presidential campaign, about how the Bush-Cheney gang led the nation into war in Iraq: “They lied, they said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none and they knew that there were none.”
Leave it to Trump to cook up the cheapest of stunts — a petty perversion of the criminal justice system to tell subordinates that loyalty to the man in charge trumps fealty to the law.