BREAKING NEWS : Crews pulling car out of Reservoir Park Full Story

Pardoning Scooter Libby is Trump's swampiest decision

On the campaign trail in 2015 and 2016, Donald Trump railed against the Iraq War (never mind his support for the 2003...

Posted: Apr 14, 2018 11:53 AM
Updated: Apr 14, 2018 11:53 AM

On the campaign trail in 2015 and 2016, Donald Trump railed against the Iraq War (never mind his support for the 2003 invasion), beat up on the Bush family political dynasty and, with three words that pulled together all that and more, promised to "drain the swamp" in Washington.

A couple years on, the bog remains thick with the creatures Trump promised to drive out. He's even introduced some new breeds. But there is nothing that Trump or his lieutenants have done that comes close, in sheer fetid swampiness, to pardoning the criminal former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a move the White House made official on Friday.

Americans have tragically short memories. For certain sorts of politicians, that can be a great gift. For Trump, it probably means the pardon will go down without much of a sustained uproar from even the liberal provinces. That's thanks in part to the sizable number of Democrats who have come to regard Bush-era malfeasance and scandal as petty or low-stakes when held up against Trump's behavior.

Inside the Beltway, the real prospect of a Libby pardon -- from when it was first reported on Thursday -- immediately became a Rob Mueller-related parlor game. The big question: Was Trump considering the move as a way of signaling to Paul Manafort and others caught up in the special counsel investigation that he will reward them for keeping mum?

"So what's the message here?" former Bush White House ethics chief and ubiquitous Trump critic Richard Painter asked in a tweet. "Lie to a grand jury to protect political superiors and you will get a full pardon?"

Maybe so. That Trump would send up a flare to his old allies, some of them already cooperating with Mueller, makes some tactical sense. He's also expressed sympathy in the past for Libby, telling CNN's Wolf Blitzer in 2007 that Cheney's man "probably took a bullet for the administration." But again, that's all speculation -- and, for now at least -- beside the point.

What we know for sure -- because his conviction capped off a years-long scandal -- is that Libby was found guilty in 2007 of obstruction of justice, twice perjuring himself before a grand jury, and lying to FBI agents during their probe into who leaked the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame in 2003, shortly after the Iraq War began.

That summer, Plame's husband, the former diplomat Joe Wilson, accused the administration in a New York Times op-ed that summer of twisting "intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program ... to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."

Concluding that Cheney's office had dismissed evidence, turned up by Wilson, that dented the case for invading Iraq, Wilson concluded his piece by writing: "The act of war is the last option of a democracy, taken when there is a grave threat to our national security. More than 200 American soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq already. We have a duty to ensure that their sacrifice came for the right reasons."

Fifteen years on, nearly 5,000 US service members are among the Iraq War dead. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed. The violence continues to this day, most notably as part of the fight to permanently uproot ISIS.

Libby was one of the leading proponents of the war. President George W. Bush spared him from serving prison time, commuting a 30-month sentence, deeming it "excessive." From there, a long campaign -- spearheaded by Libby's powerful friends in Washington's permanent ruling class -- began its work. Among the more vocal Libby defenders, according to The New York Times, is new Trump national security adviser John Bolton.

Hours after word came down on Friday, a spokesman for Bush said of the pardon, "President Bush is very pleased for Scooter and his family."

In its own statement, the Trump White House set out its reasoning, then offered this instructive coda -- emphasis mine.

"Before his conviction, Mr. Libby had rendered more than a decade of honorable service to the Nation as a public servant at the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the White House. His record since his conviction is similarly unblemished, and he continues to be held in high regard by his colleagues and peers."

On this latter point, there should be no doubt. They'll be partying in the swamp tonight.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 724214

Reported Deaths: 13363
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion989071736
Lake53172962
Allen40223675
Hamilton35354408
St. Joseph35270550
Elkhart28228437
Tippecanoe22297217
Vanderburgh22231396
Porter18560304
Johnson17832376
Hendricks17098313
Clark12897191
Madison12519339
Vigo12379244
Monroe11811168
LaPorte11691210
Delaware10571185
Howard9823215
Kosciusko9347117
Hancock8204139
Bartholomew8036155
Warrick7754155
Floyd7630176
Wayne7002198
Grant6986174
Boone6652101
Morgan6529139
Dubois6139117
Marshall5954111
Dearborn577177
Cass5769105
Henry5671102
Noble555783
Jackson499672
Shelby488196
Lawrence4470120
Gibson433791
Harrison432972
Clinton426353
DeKalb423284
Montgomery423088
Whitley392739
Huntington386380
Steuben381057
Miami379165
Knox370990
Jasper361347
Putnam357760
Wabash352478
Adams340354
Ripley338370
Jefferson328481
White312254
Daviess294399
Wells290281
Decatur282992
Fayette278362
Greene276085
Posey270733
Scott264453
LaGrange263870
Clay258945
Randolph239581
Washington239131
Spencer230431
Jennings228848
Starke213252
Fountain211846
Sullivan210442
Owen195856
Fulton194240
Jay190429
Carroll187820
Perry182537
Orange181854
Rush172625
Vermillion167643
Franklin167235
Tipton161945
Parke145416
Blackford134332
Pike132634
Pulaski115945
Newton106734
Brown101441
Crawford99014
Benton98114
Martin87415
Warren80515
Switzerland7808
Union70610
Ohio56211
Unassigned0413

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1077284

Reported Deaths: 19344
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1251861392
Cuyahoga1110942107
Hamilton796611200
Montgomery511561012
Summit46842933
Lucas41780782
Butler38228580
Stark32099907
Lorain24828480
Warren24214297
Mahoning21403586
Lake20518368
Clermont19704238
Delaware18463131
Licking16373210
Fairfield16083199
Trumbull15966466
Medina15192262
Greene14991244
Clark13927297
Wood13020188
Portage12772201
Allen11564231
Richland11277198
Miami10652215
Muskingum8783132
Wayne8738210
Columbiana8735229
Pickaway8527121
Marion8494135
Tuscarawas8459243
Erie7831154
Hancock6880126
Ross6821152
Ashtabula6756169
Geauga6659148
Scioto6385101
Belmont5828167
Union569347
Lawrence5536102
Jefferson5481151
Huron5409119
Darke5333122
Sandusky5316120
Seneca5248121
Athens518058
Washington5137109
Auglaize487084
Mercer479085
Shelby466893
Knox4472110
Madison434761
Putnam4260100
Ashland420989
Fulton419869
Defiance416597
Crawford3954106
Brown391857
Logan380676
Preble378298
Clinton369861
Ottawa365779
Highland352761
Williams337075
Champaign329258
Guernsey314453
Jackson311651
Perry294250
Morrow283639
Fayette280649
Hardin269864
Henry267766
Coshocton263858
Holmes2587101
Van Wert242463
Pike237233
Adams235852
Gallia235148
Wyandot230654
Hocking214662
Carroll190947
Paulding171140
Meigs144339
Noble133437
Monroe130642
Morgan108223
Harrison107337
Vinton82015
Unassigned02
Fort Wayne
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 51°
Angola
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 45°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 48°
Decatur
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 51°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 52°
Shower and thunderstorm chances increase Thursday afternoon.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events