Q&A Friday #67: Scooter Libby, Bill Clinton, And Perjury

Question: “Do you think there’s any tension between the widespread conservative desire to see Scooter Libby pardoned after his conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice, and the insistence that President Clinton should have been removed from office for those same crimes?” — maledicta

Answer: That’s a tough question because obviously, there are some parallels.

But, there are a lot of differences that are driving the desire for a pardon…

#1) There’s a real feeling on the right that there’s a legal double standard that is being applied to conservatives. Clinton and Sandy Burgar were given slaps on the wrist while Scooter Libby is being sent to jail for 30 months.

#2) There’s a concern about the criminalization of politics here. Joe Wilson lied numerous times about the fallout from his trip to Africa. His wife lied about it. Then, when the White House tried to correct Wilson’s lies, Scooter Libby ended up in jail, while neither of them have faced any legal consequences for their actions.

#3) There was no underlying crime.

#4) Fitzgerald knew who leaked the story and that there was no underlying crime before he ever talked to Libby. So, I think it’s entirely possible that Fitzgerald went after Libby solely because he didn’t want to come up empty on a high profile case.

#5) Since there’s no underlying crime and Libby’s defense is that he simply had a memory lapse, there’s a genuine feeling in many quarters that he’s being railroaded for having a faulty memory.

The flip side to this is that Libby was told so many times that Plame was Wilson’s wife that it’s hard to believe that his memory could be that faulty. If that is the case, and he perjured himself, he deserves to spend time in jail (Personally, I’m agnostic about a Libby pardon. I wouldn’t pardon him if I were Bush, but there are enough mitigating factors that it wouldn’t bother me if Bush chose to pardon him).

Still, I can certainly understand why so many people think he deserves a pardon and I think they can make a decent case for giving him one.

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