Dick Cheney finally gets his wish

"I don't know Mr. Libby," President Donald Trump...

Posted: Apr 17, 2018 8:59 AM
Updated: Apr 17, 2018 8:59 AM

"I don't know Mr. Libby," President Donald Trump said when announcing the pardon of former Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff. "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."

However, since his 2007 felony conviction -- and his commuted 30-month prison sentence -- I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby has regained his right to vote and his license to practice law. Trump's decision, therefore, raises the critical question: Why is he granting a pardon for Libby at all?

Libby spent years overseeing a mini fiefdom in the West Wing. He had an unprecedented triple title: Cheney's chief of staff and national security adviser as well as assistant to the President. In 2007, he was found guilty of lying about his role in the leak of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame's name to the press and was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. Though George W. Bush commuted the sentence, Cheney insisted then that Libby should have been granted a full presidential pardon.

When I interviewed Cheney a month after Trump won the presidential election, it surprised me that eight years after leaving the White House he was just as angry about Bush's refusal to pardon his longtime right-hand man as he was the day he left the White House.

It was the most passionate he became in our more-than-hourlong discussion about the vice presidency for my next book. I asked Cheney if he would be pushing for a pardon for Libby (in the weeks between the election and our conversation, he said he had talked with incoming Vice President Mike Pence several times) but he would not answer the question directly.

Friends say they do not think anything bothered Cheney more than what he described as leaving a man on the battlefield. Libby was usually by his side when he received the top-secret President's Daily Brief, an intelligence summary compiled by the CIA, in the early morning hours at the vice president's residence, and he was Cheney's closest adviser in the White House. "I did everything I could [to convince Bush to pardon him]. Without question, it was the most tense element of the relationship between myself and the President," Cheney said in an interview at his home in suburban Washington. "I still want to see a pardon, that's the only thing that I think is justified by the circumstances ... It's a travesty. ..."

"We had a very, very heated exchange the last time we had lunch in the White House the week of the inaugural," Cheney told me, of an exchange with Bush. "It's a subject we don't discuss."

The decision not to pardon Libby clearly weighed on Bush, too. Riding together in the motorcade to the Capitol with his successor, Barack Obama, Bush advised him to come up with a pardon policy early on in his administration and to stick to it, no matter what. After Obama's inauguration, Cheney and Libby did not see each other for more than a year. Since leaving the White House, Bush has described his relationship with Cheney as "cordial." "But he lives in Washington and we live in Dallas," Bush told C-SPAN.

Trump's decision to reverse course on Bush's approach may be motivated by several factors. While it could be purely out of the kindness of his heart, it may also have been done as a personal favor to Cheney, who has been advising Vice President Mike Pence.

The President might also be sending a message to his close aides Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, who are embroiled in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. He may be indicating that he will be willing to pardon them, too, should he need to. After all, if Trump is willing to pardon a man he does not even know, then pardoning his own former aides willing to protect him from Mueller's investigation would seem entirely possible.

But the pardon also shows his about-face on the Bush White House. During the Republican primary, Trump called the war in Iraq "a big, fat mistake" and said the US invasion "destabilized the Middle East." Now he has made one of the war's leading proponents, John Bolton, his national security adviser, and he has granted its chief architect, Cheney, his greatest wish.

"I've got a lot of confidence in Mike," Cheney told me. And with Trump's surprise pardon, it seems Pence has repaid Cheney for his advice.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
Pearl River9707244
Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7204138
Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
Bolivar6440151
Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
Lincoln5525136
George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
Itawamba4829107
Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
Leflore4723144
Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
Wayne442772
Covington432895
Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
Newton395581
Tishomingo381793
Grenada3775109
Stone365666
Jasper340166
Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 844594

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1160612006
Mobile741651379
Madison53255732
Shelby38313368
Baldwin38061589
Tuscaloosa35996641
Montgomery34473781
Lee25541263
Calhoun22582518
Morgan22441406
Etowah20009517
Marshall18771316
Houston17723425
St. Clair16863358
Limestone16123218
Cullman16032303
Elmore15902294
Lauderdale14945306
Talladega14186299
DeKalb12957269
Walker12011380
Blount10700192
Autauga10512157
Jackson10151194
Coffee9412192
Colbert9325208
Dale9013191
Tallapoosa7248201
Russell707465
Chilton7015170
Escambia6951143
Covington6926195
Franklin6337108
Chambers5778142
Marion5400130
Dallas5283209
Pike5114109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4777110
Geneva4640136
Bibb434094
Barbour369180
Butler3433100
Marengo342393
Monroe336666
Randolph334067
Pickens333188
Fayette329885
Henry320566
Hale317989
Cherokee316963
Crenshaw260477
Washington256952
Cleburne254360
Lamar251253
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192762
Coosa184647
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139041
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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