Home / Lewis Libby Trial Coverage
Scooter Libby can vote again. The Governor of Virginia's list of pardons, clemencies and restoration of rights for 2012 is contained in this report of the Virginia legislature, released Feb. 23. Libby's rights were restored in November, 2012.
Virginia's rules for restoration or rights are here.
Libby's prison sentence was commuted by then President G.W. Bush in 2007, hours after his request for an appeal bond was denied by the Court of Appeals, meaning he'd have to go to prison while waiting for the appeal decision. Many people, myself included, saw the commutation as total disrespect for the law. [More....]
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Marcy Wheeler at Empty Wheel dissects the article in Time Magazine about the waning days of Bush and Cheney, as it relates to the Scooter Libby non-pardon. Cheney pleaded and cajoled for his buddy, Bush didn't want to give him any more breaks than the sentence commutation he had already ordered.
But the fight over the pardon was also a prelude to the difficult questions about justice and national security inherited by the Obama Administration: How closely should the nation examine the actions of government officials who took steps — legal or possibly illegal — to defend the nation's security during the war on terrorism? The Libby investigation, which began nearly six years ago, went to the heart of whether the Bush Administration misled the public in making its case to invade Iraq. But other Bush-era policies are still coming under legal scrutiny. [More...]
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I was checking White Collar Crime Blog to get Professor Ellen Podgor's take on the Don Siegelman decision, but learned she's at the ABA White Collar Crime conference in San Francisco. One panel she attended was about the white collar trials of 2007. Ted Wells, Scooter Libby's lawyer, was one of the panelists. She writes:
The eight male speakers covered the cases of Michael Reyes (Brocade), Joseph Nacchio (Qwest), Scooter Libby and the KPMG defendants. One recurring theme was what I call the "the context of the case."
For example, in discussing the Scooter Libby case, Theodore V. Wells, Jr. noted how the Scooter Libby case could be seen as a proxy for how people felt about President Bush and the war. It was a "he said-she said" case on a 20 second phone call - but the timing of the trial was important.
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The New York Daily News reports that aides to Dick Cheney are saying he's really angry that Bush wouldn't give Scooter Libby a full pardon and kept the pressure on Bush until the last minute.
After repeatedly telling Cheney his mind was made up, Bush became so exasperated with Cheney's persistence he told aides he didn't want to discuss the matter any further. The unsuccessful full-court press left Cheney bitter. "He's furious with Bush," a Cheney source told The News. "He's really angry about it and decided he's going to say what he believes."
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Via Christopher Bateman at Vanity Fair: In his tell-all book about the Bush Administration, former Press Secretary Scott McClellan has harsh words for President Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's prison sentence in the Valerie Plame leaks case:
It’s … clear to me that Scooter Libby was guilty of the perjury and obstruction crimes for which he was convicted. When the president commuted Libby’s prison sentence and thereby protected him from serving even one day behind bars, I was disappointed. This kind of special treatment undermines our system of justice…. President Bush certainly has the right and the power to commute Libby’s sentence. But in choosing to do so, he sent an unfortunate message to America and the world—that in the United States criminal behavior on behalf of a political cause may go unpunished if those who support that cause have the power to make it happen.
At the time, John McCain agreed with Bush: [More...]
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I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was disbarred today. The court said he perjury conviction was a crime of moral turpitude.
The former White House aide was found guilty a year ago of obstruction of justice and lying. Those are considered crimes involving "moral turpitude" that under the law require disbarment, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruled.
The court had previously suspended Libby from the practice of law in Washington. President George W. Bush in July commuted Libby's 2-1/2-year prison sentence, enraging Democrats who accused Bush of abusing his power.
Libby did not challenge the disbarment.
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Scooter Libby's lawyer has announced they will drop the appeal of Libby's felony convictions.
It's too expensive and draining on his "young family."
I suspect this means Scooter has lined up another job and doesn't need his law license back.
Update: Joe Wilson thinks it means Libby's getting a pardon from Bush (received by e-mail, no link yet): [more]
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TPM has the goods on how Victor Rita (now serving a 33 months sentence), convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice, was "less equal than" Scooter Libby (now scot free), also convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice, providing this video of Rita's attorney, Tom Cochran, a public defender from North Carolina, testifying at today's House hearing on the commutation of Libby:
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The House Judiciary Committee's hearing on the use and abuse of presidential dlemency authority for executive branch officials, to include the Scooter Libby sentence commutation, begins at 12:00 pm ET.
You can watch the live webcast here.
I've already expressed my opinion on the witness list, and how I don't think it will shed any light on Bush's motives in granting the commutation.
I think it is worthwhile to listen to the testimony of Joe Wilson and law professor Doug Berman.
Unless the President waives executive privilege on the Libby commutation as Rep. Conyers asked him to do in this letter (pdf), and as President Clinton did in similar hearings into his exercise of clemency, I don't think we get very far today.
The briefs are in and both the Government and Team Libby, as well as White House Counsel Fred Fielding who submitted a letter, agree: Libby's two year term supervised release is valid and he should begin serving it immediately.
Fitz's brief is here (pdf), Libby's is here, and Fred Fielding's letter (which he sent to both sides and filed with the court even though neither side took Judge Walton up on his suggestion and asked for the White House's opinion) is here.
I'd say it's a done deal. Libby will be on supervised release before the week is out.
For what supervised release means for Libby, see my earlier post, Life on Supervised Release. For TalkLeft's analysis of the issue of the validity of the supervised release term in light of the commutation see Suggestions for Judge Walton on Libby's Supervised Release.
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Michael Iskifoff covers the Scooter Libby sentence commutation in Newsweek today. As to the role Dick Cheney may have played, he writes:
Hanging over his deliberations was Cheney, who had said he was "very disappointed" with the jury's verdict. Cheney did not directly weigh in with Fielding, but nobody involved had any doubt where he stood. "I'm not sure Bush had a choice," says one of the advisers. "If he didn't act, it would have caused a fracture with the vice president." (White House officials and Cheney declined to comment. "As you know, we don't discuss internal deliberations," a Cheney spokeswoman tells NEWSWEEK.)
One of my first thoughts after hearing about the commutation was that it showed Dick Cheney still had a lot of clout. Now I'm wondering how he'll use it to obstruct the Congressional hearings next week. Cheney has a penchant for hiding behind executive privilege.
Update: Josh Marshall adds some thoughts on this.
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Crooks and Liars reports that Sen. Charles Schumer said on Face the Nation today that the Committee may call Libby prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to testify about Bush and Cheney in the context of the Valerie Plame investigation.
If they do, I hope they ask him whether he and Team Libby had any discussions after Libby's conviction about Libby providing information to the Government on Cheney and Bush's role in PlameGate in exchange for the Government's filing of a Rule 35 motion for sentence reduction.
Rule 35 provides in part:
(1) In General. Upon the government's motion made within one year of sentencing, the court may reduce a sentence if:
(A) the defendant, after sentencing, provided substantial assistance in investigating or prosecuting another person;
I can't think of any reason off the top of my head why that information would be privileged. As a federal court in California ruled in a case I cite all the time in discovery motions, almost always with successful results:
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David Dow, the University Distinguished Professor at the University of Houston Law Center who represented a death penalty defendant in Texas while George Bush was Governor, has some questions for the President in this Houston Chronicle Op-Ed about his commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence and his failure to grant the same to his client, Carl Johnson.
My client, Carl Johnson, committed the worst crime that can be committed against another human being: He killed someone. And Lewis Libby committed the crime that is most injurious to our criminal justice system: He lied. Unlike my client, Libby, who was convicted by a jury of his peers despite being represented by the best lawyers that money can buy, has never shown any public sign of remorse. Nevertheless, despite all that, President Bush did not exceed his authority in commuting Lewis Libby's prison sentence. The Constitution gives him the power to do what he did. But it is possible for actions to be lawful and simultaneously in conflict with other constitutional principles. Last week's pardon deeply offends the constitutional value of equality, the idea that all citizens stand equal before the law.
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John Colson, writing in the Aspen Times, supports one emerging theory of the Scooter Libby commutation: Bush and Cheney couldn't let a caged Scooter sing:
Cheney, better than anyone, knows what a weak link Libby is. All you have to do is look at the guy to know, without any doubt, that within two weeks of incarceration he would sing like a lark on a bright spring morning. And the notes of his song would not be good for Cheney, Bush or the entire construct of deceit and destruction that the Bush presidency has become.
Libby certainly knows who decided Plame’s identity should be leaked to the media. He certainly knows who was in on the discussions leading to that decision. And he undoubtedly knows where the papers are that could prove any assertions of those points, although it’s entirely possible that Cheney is smarter than Richard Nixon was and already has shredded, electronically scrubbed and otherwise obliterated all the evidence.
The question then becomes:
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Via Marcy Wheeler at Next Hurrah, Scooter Libby has added another lawyer to his defense team, Greg Poe of Robbins, Russell. Laurence Robbins joined earlier to assist with sentencing and appeal issues.
Marcy thinks Poe has been added to try and get Libby out of serving his two year supervised release term. I suspect she's right, although I would expect him to stay on for the duration of Libby's appeal.
I'm going to switch hats again here, and go from bashing Libby's commutation (for which I blame Bush not Libby) to praising defense lawyers such as Libby's latest addition who in the ordinary course of their practice challenge mandatory minimums and the unfairness of the Sentencing Guidelines.
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