GOP Candidates Weigh in on Scooter Libby Pardon

The Republican candidates for President were asked at the New Hampshire debate tonight whether Scooter Libby should be pardoned. They were told to give a yes or no answer. From the transcript:

I just want to do a quick yes or no, and I’m going to go down the rest of the group and let everybody just tell me yes or no, would you pardon Scooter Libby?


MR. GILMORE: No. I’m steeped in the law. I wouldn’t do that.

REP. HUNTER: No, not without reading the transcript.

MR. HUCKABEE: Not without reading the transcript.

SEN. MCCAIN: He’s going through an appeal process. We’ve got to see what happens here.

MR. GIULIANI: I think the sentence was way out of line. I mean, the sentence was grossly excessive in a situation in which at the beginning, the prosecutor knew who the leak was —

MR. BLITZER: So yes or no, would you pardon him?


MR. GIULIANI: — and he knew a crime wasn’t committed. I recommended over a thousand pardons to President Reagan when I was associate attorney general. I would see if it fit the criteria for pardon. I’d wait for the appeal. I think what the judge did today argues more in favor of a pardon —

MR. BLITZER: Thank you.

MR. GIULIANI: — because this is excessive punishment —

MR. BLITZER: All right.

MR. GIULIANI: — when you consider — I’ve prosecuted 5,000 cases —

MR. BLITZER: I’m trying to get a yes or no. (Laughter.)

MR. GIULIANI: Well, this is a very important issue. This is a very, very important — a man’s life is at stake. And the reality is, this is an incomprehensible situation. They knew who the leak was —

MR. : Say, Wolf, can I explain — (off mike) —

MR. GIULIANI: — and ultimately, there was no underlying crime involved.

MR. BLITZER: All right.

MR. ROMNEY: This is one of those situations where I go back to my record as governor. I didn’t pardon anybody as governor because I didn’t want to overturn a jury.

But in this case, you have a prosecutor who clearly abused prosecutorial discretion by going after somebody when he already knew that the source of the leak was Richard Armitage. He’d been told that. So HE went on a political vendetta.

MR. BLITZER: So is that a yes?

MR. ROMNEY: It’s worth looking at that. I will study it very closely, if I’m lucky enough to be president, and I’d keep that option open.

MR. BLITZER: Senator?

SEN. BROWNBACK: Yes. The basic crime here didn’t happen.

MR. BLITZER: All right.

SEN. BROWNBACK: What they were saying was that the identity of an agent was revealed —

MR. BLITZER: Governor?

SEN. BROWNBACK: — but that agent has to be in the field for that to be a crime. That didn’t occur.

MR. BLITZER: Governor?

MR. THOMPSON: Bill Clinton committed perjury in a grand jury — lost his law license. Scooter Libby got 30 months. To me, it’s not fair at all. But I would make sure the appeal was done properly, and then I would examine the record.

MR. BLITZER: Congressman?



All right. We heard from all of them. (Applause.)

< GOP Debate Lowlights | Will Scooter Libby Get an Appeal Bond? >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    A pardon is the ultimate obstruction of justice (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by txpublicdefender on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 10:13:04 AM EST
    I keep forgetting that you are allowed to lie to a federal grand jury repeatedly if it ultimately turns out that the crime they were investigating was not committed.

    On another point, my central complaint with the Libby pardon-supporters in the "he's the fall guy" camp, as opposed to just the right-wing hack camp, is that they don't seem to comprehend that pardoning the fall guy is the ultimate crime.  If the head of the conspiracy has pardon power, he can tell his underlings in the conspiracy to lie their asses off to protect him, knowing all the while that even if their lies get them in trouble, he can pardon them.  Asking someone to be a fall guy is no easy task.  That person has to be willing to take the punishment for someone he has strong loyalty to.  That's why you have so many underlings in conspiracies roll over on the big guy--which is truly about the only way to ever get the head of the conspiracy.  But when the head of the conspiracy has pardon power, asking someone to be the fall guy is the easiest thing in the world.  And it is the ultimate, but unprosecutable, obstruction of justice.

    Giuliani, (none / 0) (#1)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 07:01:56 AM EST
      the former federal prosecutor thinks THIS sentence was grossly out of line.  to what is he comparing this for purposes of establishing the line.

    He's prone to exaggeration (none / 0) (#15)
    by manys on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 01:26:08 PM EST
    "...a man's life is at stake."

    Ron Paul and Tancredo.... (none / 0) (#2)
    by kdog on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 07:36:57 AM EST
    are leading the pack in english comprehension, that much is certain.

    Is the Ghoul still talking on an empty soundstage this morning?

    It sounds to me (none / 0) (#3)
    by Al on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 07:58:01 AM EST
    like they were all against it before they were for it.

    One of the mysteries I'm still waiting for someone (none / 0) (#4)
    by Johnbo on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 08:18:12 AM EST
    to clear up is how Armitage got the information about Plame.  I recall reading that a briefing paper was prepared - I assume by the office of the Vice President - giving talking points to various administration people in the wake of the Wilson editorial.  It was just before or as Bush and Colon Powell were leaving for a trip to Africa as I recall.  That paper was the first inkling that several insiders got about Plame and Wilson.  I THINK that's the way it went.  It was from some kind of White House paper that Armitage got the information it seems.  Maybe earlier than the date of the editorial?

    Does anyone know the answer?

    Newsweek (none / 0) (#5)
    by Edger on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 08:39:34 AM EST
    Armitage acknowledged that he had passed along to Novak information contained in a classified State Department memo: that Wilson's wife worked on weapons-of-mass-destruction issues at the CIA.
    Michael Isikoff

    Newsweek (none / 0) (#6)
    by Edger on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 08:40:56 AM EST
    Thanks, that's helpful (none / 0) (#7)
    by Johnbo on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 09:01:22 AM EST
    but what was the source of State Department memo?  I think it originated with Cheney but can't recall where I got that info.  Do you have any idea?



    If you mean (none / 0) (#10)
    by Edger on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 09:34:47 AM EST
    who supplied Armitage with it, I don't know. Cheney, through one of Cheney's network in State, I would assume, or Rove?

    errr. 'suspect', not 'assume' (none / 0) (#11)
    by Edger on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 09:35:39 AM EST
    no crime was committed? (none / 0) (#8)
    by A DC Wonk on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 09:02:12 AM EST
    Arggh . . . I hate that line of argument.

    The real deal is this: no underlying crime could be proved because the "obstruction of justice" was successful.

    So, we prosecute the obstruction of justice.

    It's an easy sound bite that I wish more would use.

    You gotta love politicians (none / 0) (#9)
    by lonestar on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 09:34:38 AM EST
    Out of the whole group, only 2 could give Wolfie what he asked for: a quick yes or no answer.

    Libby pardon and Congress (none / 0) (#13)
    by naschkatze on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 11:33:27 AM EST
    Someone on another site asked the question that if Bush pardoned Libby, could Congress then call Libby to testify on the CIA Leak and Libby would not then be able to plead the 5th?  Since there are so many lawyers here, I thought I might get an answer.  If it is true, I would think that it would be a huge deterrent to a pardon.

    Probably not. (none / 0) (#14)
    by Gabriel Malor on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 12:30:15 PM EST
    At first blush, that idea is at least worth considering because the general rule is that the right against self-incrimination does not apply when a pardon or immunity has been granted. However, that rule is subject to several limitations. Give the exceptions, I do not believe that Congress would be able to compel testimony barring some further agreement with Libby. There are a few reasons for this conclusion:

    First, a pardon extended in a particular case relates only to that case and will not cover other offenses not mentioned. So, Libby's pardon would cover his convictions for obstruction, perjury, and lying. He would not be able to assert the right against self-incrimination as to information relating solely to those crimes. But the pardon would not cover any other crimes that may have been committed, and he would need only show cause of a credible fear of incrimination for these other crimes to assert the right as to information related to them.

    Second, when immunity has been granted to a person, it must be as broad as the privilege against self-incrimination. In other words, there can be no residual chance of prosecution for anything that would have been protected under the privilege. This is essentially the same rule as above, except that it relates not just to pardons, but to any immunity deals worked out with the AG's office or Congress.

    Third, even if Libby's privilege against self-incrimination was waived or lost, he (and the government) would still retain the immunity associated with executive communications. That immunity is founded on the separation of powers and does not rely on Libby's own Fifth Amendment rights.


    actually (none / 0) (#17)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 03:39:25 PM EST
     there have been blanket pardons applicable to all past federal crimes.

    Oh? (none / 0) (#18)
    by Gabriel Malor on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 03:56:10 PM EST
    I don't know about Presidential pardons, but state courts have required that gubernatorial pardons must describe the offense that is to be forgiven with some accuracy.

    Without taking time to research pardons in the federal context I don't know what the result of a "blanket pardon" would be. Who received a "blanket pardon?"


    Hmmm. (none / 0) (#19)
    by Gabriel Malor on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 04:03:21 PM EST
    Some in the media have referred to the pardons granted by Kentucky governor Ernie Fletcher as "blanket pardons" but the pardons themselves describe what crimes they apply to in accordance with the rule I listed. Fletcher pardoned some of his staff in writing by declaring:

    any and all persons who have committed, or may be accused of committing, any offense up to and including the date hereof, relating in any way to the current merit system investigation being conducted by the special grand jury presently sitting in Franklin County.

    It's a blanket pardon in that applies to more than just a named person, not because it applies to more than just the named crimes.


    a hint (none / 0) (#22)
    by Deconstructionist on Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 07:06:19 AM EST
     his initials were RMN

    Another clue (none / 0) (#23)
    by Deconstructionist on Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 07:08:55 AM EST
    "Now, therefore, I, Gerald R. Ford, President of the United States, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon me by Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, have granted and by these presents do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto __ for all offenses against the United States which he, ___, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from July (January) 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974."

    Thanks, (none / 0) (#16)
    by naschkatze on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 03:32:16 PM EST
    Gabriel Malor

    "Blanket immunity" (none / 0) (#20)
    by atlanta lawyer on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 09:20:39 PM EST
    Gabriel, The immunity you described seems rather broad as well.  The immunity does need to be as broad as the privledge, and the 5th is a privledge against self-incrimination, not prosecution.  Georgia recognizes only use and derivative use immunity, not transactional, meaning, they can force you testify if they give you immunity, but they can't use your statements against you, and can't use your statements to go track down more evidence (it's essentially like fruit of the posionous tree). I assume that you may be correct about the immunity practices of some jurisdictions, but it's not Constiutionally necessary to give tranactional immunity, use and derivate use is sufficient.

    Thanks. (none / 0) (#21)
    by Gabriel Malor on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 11:20:15 PM EST
    Thanks, Atlanta Lawyer!