Some are suggesting that the president is telegraphing a message to Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his Friday pardon of Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.
Way back in 2003, it was James Comey who appointed a special counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, to investigate allegations that the identity of a covert CIA agent was leaked to the media for political purposes. The focus of the investigation was Libby, but he was eventually not charged with leaking, but lying to the FBI.
Today, there has been one Trump administration official indicted in Mueller’s investigation of alleged Russia-Trump campaign collusion, former national security adviser Michael Flynn. And the White House has made the statement that they have no plan to pardon anyone charged in the Russia investigation.
But Trump said on Friday that he doesn’t know Libby, 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,” the president said.
This has led NBC News veteran reporter Andrew Mitchell to ask in a tweet Friday if the Libby pardon was “a prelude to pardons for the Mueller probe targets,” advising, “Buckle your seatbelts.”
Could Trump have had a more subtle message in his actions? The president spotlighted an aggressive special counsel who failed to find any violation of the crime he was originally commissioned to investigate and resorted to a questionable charge to justify his effort.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked on Friday if Trump’s pardon was a message to Mueller.
“Not at all. One case has nothing to do with the other. And every case should be viewed on its own merit,” Sanders said.
“Pardoning Libby was the right thing to do,” she continued. “After the witness recanted her testimony, the D.C. Court of Appeals panel unanimously voted to restore Mr. Libby’s bar membership after being presented credible evidence in support of his version of events, and it appears that that key prosecution witness, Judith Miller, changed her recollection of the events in question.”
Comey’s connection to the Libby charge in 2003 by hiring Fitzgerald to investigate the Plame affair and his connection to the leaked memos to the New York Times detailing his meetings with Trump are a concern for some reporters. With Comey’s actions leading to launching Mueller’s probe, CNN anchor Jake Tapper implied on Friday that there was no justification for pardoning Libby.
“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.”
Do you believe that Trump is sending a veiled message to Mueller by pardoning Libby?