Libby Pardon Mania

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It’s all anyone is talking about. Will Bush pardon Libby? The Dems are urging the president not to. Libby allies are pushing hard and fast for an immediate pardon. Bush has said he will stay out of it for now.

Jonathan points out we should really move “past Libby and take a look at all the other players (Read: Cheney) in this sordid drama.” I couldn’t agree more, but there is one interesting question which Newsweek posed a few days back. Can Bush pardon Libby even if he wanted to? According to Newsweek, he can’t. The VP’s chief of staff “does not qualify to even be considered for a presidential pardon under Justice Department guidelines,” reads the article. Here are the guidelines.

Well, so this isn’t exactly true, because not all presidents follow these guidelines. But Bush has, so it could make the prospect for a pardon from him unlikely. Bush has been both stringent with the number of pardons that he has granted as well as with the manner in which he has granted them. One guideline that could impede Libby’s pardon prospects is that a petitioner must wait five years or until released from confinement to file a pardon application. There is also the issue of acceptance of guilt, which according to Jonathan Turley, a GW law prof. I contacted for more information on this issue, is a “threshold expectation among pardon attorneys.”

But really, I wonder if any of this matters. With pressure from Cheney and Libby allies, will Bush uphold his frugal pardon track record? Maybe not. According to Turley, if Bush pardons Libby, the controversy would indeed be escalated considering his refusal to pardon so many others, but he notes that Bush has one thing going for him — low ratings. “It is hard to get any lower,” says Turley. “He is down to the true believers and Koolaid drinkers at this point.” Maybe Libby will get lucky.

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