Libby Sentencing on Tuesday -- Will Bush Pardon Him?

Editor & Publisher, June 3, 2007 | Go to article overview

Libby Sentencing on Tuesday -- Will Bush Pardon Him?


At his sentencing Tuesday, former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby will learn whether he will go to prison and, if so, whether it will be right away for his conviction in the CIA leak case.

Once Libby's fate is known, then there is this ultimate question: Will President Bush pardon him?

Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney and assistant to Bush, was convicted in March of lying and obstructing the investigation into the 2003 outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is calling for Libby to spend up to three years in prison.

Libby maintains his innocence. With the support of several current and former White House, State Department and Pentagon officials, he has asked U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton not to send him to prison.

Walton has a reputation as one of the district's strictest judges.

Since Libby's conviction, the White House has sidestepped talk of pardoning Libby. Some of Libby's supporters have spoken publicly about a pardon, while Democrats are asking Bush to promise not to issue one.

Bush said he is "pretty much going to stay out of" the case until the legal fight is over.

That becomes harder to do if Walton sends Libby to prison. Bush will have to decide whether to pardon his former aide or let him serve his time.

"If jail time is issued, I would hope the president would issue a pardon," said former Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., a member of Libby's legal defense fund.

A pardon decision could be delayed, however, if Walton sentences Libby to prison but puts the sentence on hold. Normally, defendants are ordered to report to prison within weeks. But the law allows - and defense lawyers said they will ask - Walton to delay the sentence until appeals have run out.

That could be many months, at the earliest, or even more than a year. …

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