Trump may not get to pardon his own team en masse, but with his pardon of Scooter Libby he has set the stage.
I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was investigated by the FBI in 2005 and convicted in 2007 for his involvement about the outing of CIA operations officer Valerie Plame-Wilson to the press.
Plame was named as a CIA operative in an article by conservative Robert Novak in his response to her husband, then-Ambassador Joe Wilson, who wrote an op-ed accusing the Bush administration of distorting facts to magnify the threat posed by Iraq in the run-up to the war (which we now know was true).
Libby was convicted of lying to the FBI, lying to a grand jury and obstruction of justice as a result of the investigation by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Ten years later, during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigations into Russia, many of the same charges are becoming more and more a part of the political discourse.
Perjury is central to the potential gains the Mueller investigation could make if Mueller’s team interviewed Donald Trump, who has in turn accused James Comey of perjury. As for obstruction, Mueller’s investigation made headlines last week as media found out it was preparing a report about obstruction of justice, and the firing of Mueller — which Trump absolutely wanted to do — would unquestionably be an example of obstruction.
To say nothing of prosecuting Mueller, which Trump also apparently wants to do.
So by pardoning Libby, who outed a CIA operative in a desperate bid to protect his administration’s lie that was fundamental to the Iraq War, Trump has not-so-casually tipped his hand — his administration will forgive lying to law enforcement, impeding investigations and endangering operational safety of the United States so long as it’s done out of loyalty to a Republican president.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.