It seems that Trump has only used, or threatened to use, his pardoning power to stir controversy. After granting a misguided pardon to former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty of criminal contempt charges, Trump has set his sights on yet another divisive figure.
According to ABC News, Trump has already signed off on a pardon for then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, Scooter Libby.
“Libby was convicted in 2007 of lying to the FBI and obstruction of justice in the investigation into the leak of the identity of Valerie Plame, a former covert CIA operative. Then-President George Bush commuted Libby’s 30-month sentence, sparing him prison time, but didn’t pardon him,” ABC News reported.
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According to New York Magazine and HuffPost’s Yashar Ali, a source close to Trump claimed that the president is “taking a stab at Bush who famously refused to give Libby a full pardon which pissed Cheney off.”
The pardon is further problematic given Trump’s proclivity to pardon political allies given the slew of arrests that have occurred thus far in special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe. The White House, for its part, has claimed that no pardons are on the table “at this time” for people caught up in the Russia investigation. However, the claim directly contradicts a report in the The New York Times alleging that John Dowd, Trump’s former lawyer, discussed with him last year the possibility of pardoning two former associates who have been caught up in Mueller’s probe.
Also curious in his decision to issue this pardon was the fact that Libby was convicted of lying to the FBI and obstruction of justice, both central themes in Mueller’s investigation. Trump may very well be using his pardon powers to signal his disdain for those charges in particular.
It seems our “law and order” president is very selective about when he wants to uphold those tenets.