Note: This story has been updated after President Trump officially pardoned Scooter Libby Friday afternoon.
President Donald Trump officially pardoned I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a former high-level official in the George W. Bush administration on Friday.
Trump said he did not personally know Libby, but “for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly. Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life,” according to a statement by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
ABC News and other outlets first reported late Thursday evening that President Donald Trump plans to pardon I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a former high-level official in the George W. Bush administration.
Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt of court after allegedly deliberately ignoring a judge’s order that he stop detaining people based on suspicions they might be in the country illegally.
Saucier pleaded guilty to unauthorized possession and retention of national defense information for taking photos of a classified submarine. Trump has referenced Saucier’s case as an example of how he felt federal investigators were going to easy on Hillary Clinton in regard to her use of classified material.
But who is Scooter Libby, and why was Trump be inclined to pardon him?
Libby is most well known as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff as well as assistant to the vice president for national security affairs and assistant to the president.
Prior to joining the administration, Libby leaped between jobs as a private lawyer and as a legal mind in the U.S. State Department and Department of Defense.
In 2003, Libby became embroiled in a major scandal later known as the “Plame Affair,” wherein special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald investigated the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame’s real identity.
Libby was not accused of the leak itself, but was indicted and later convicted of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements while giving testimony to a grand jury.
Libby told a grand jury he only learned of Plame’s secret from what he had heard in conversations with reporters, but the special prosecutor maintained that Libby was at “the beginning” of the chain, not the end, ABC News reported at the time.
President George W. Bush commuted Libby’s 30-month prison term, though he was still required to pay a $250,000, had his law license suspended and had to remain on probation for two years, CNN reported.
Bush’s hesitation to issue a full pardon angered Republicans and even Bush’s own close advisers, including Cheney. A pardon would have completely exonerated Libby, making it as though he had never been convicted.
Libby has remained out of the political spotlight since then. His voting rights were restored in 2013 and his license to practice law reinstated in 2016, where he told the Board on Professional Responsibility he declared himself innocent of the offenses he was convicted of.
President Trump’s pardon effectively wipes the slate clean. There are a few connections between the two men that may add context to Trump’s move to pardon.
Fitzgerald was a friend of James Comey, the former FBI director whom Trump fired in May of 2017. Comey is set to release a scathing book criticizing the president later in April.
President Trump’s new national security adviser John Bolton was also one of the former officials who criticized Bush for not pardoning Libby at the time, saying “If you think it was a miscarriage of justice, then you think it shouldn’t have gone to a jury to begin with,” according to The New York Times.