Indicted DeLay wants presidential pardon for Scooter Libby
Published: Friday March 9, 2007
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Former Texas Congressman Tom DeLay, who resigned as Republican Majority Leader after being indicted on state campaign finance charges, is calling for the presidential pardoning of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former aide to Vice President Cheney who was convicted earlier this week on multiple counts of perjury and obstruction of justice.

"The pardon authority is given to the Chief Executive so that he can use his judgment to even up the scales of justice in order to show mercy, or in some cases an acknowledgement by the Chief Executive that the law enforcement roll [sic] that the Executive Branch plays has gone askew," DeLay writes at his eponymous blog. "In the celebrated case of Mr. Lewis Libby, the prosecution pulled out one of its oldest and most shop-worn tricks. That is: setting up multiple perjury and obstruction of justice traps into which government officials, placed under extraordinary investigatory pressure, might fall."

To substantiate his call for a pardon, DeLay argues that the "outed" former CIA operative was not covert at all. "Valerie Plame Wilson was not working in an undercover intelligence gathering capacity overseas at the time that Armitage reveal [sic] her identity, but was sitting behind a desk at the CIAís headquarters in the fashionable Washington suburb of McLean, VA," DeLay writes.

That is an assertion DeLay has made before. On the June 28, 2006 broadcast of MSNBC's Hardball, DeLay told host Chris Matthews that "Valerie Plame was not a CIA agent" and that "she was behind a desk over at Langley." When pressed by Matthews as to whether her classification was indeed undercover, DeLay responded, "Yes, but she was not an out-in-the field CIA agent, and thatís what the law is all about."

But Larry Johnson, a former CIA counter-terrorism official and former classmate of Plame's, claimed otherwise in 2005 on the TPMCafe blog.

"The misinformation being spread in the media about the Plame affair is alarming and damaging to the longterm security interests of the United States," Johnson wrote. "For starters, Valerie Plame was an undercover operations officer until outed in the press by Robert Novak."

Johnson added, "The lies by people like Victoria Toensing, Representative Peter King, and P. J. O'Rourke insist that Valerie was nothing, just a desk jockey. Yet, until Robert Novak betrayed her she was still undercover and the company that was her front was still a secret to the world. When Novak outed Valerie he also compromised her company and every individual overseas who had been in contact with that company and with her."

DeLay's comments stand in contrast to statements he made during the debate over former President Clinton's impeachment. "No man is above the law, and no man is below the law. That's the principle that we all hold very dear in this country," DeLay said. "The president has many responsibilities and many privileges. His chief responsibility is to uphold the laws of this land. He does not have the privilege to break the law."

And as Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball recently reported, the path to a Libby pardon might not be so clear. A Libby pardon would seem to not adhere to the guidelines set for such actions by the Justice Department. President Bush has closely adhered to those guidelines, perhaps more so than any other President in recent history.

A blog at The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that DeLay may soon be joining cable news network CNN as a political commentator. But on Saturday, Rachel Sklar reported for Huffington Post that CNN was denying the report.

"Said a CNN spokeswoman via email: 'CNN is NOT hiring Tom DeLay,'" Sklar reported. "Which seemed sort of emphatic, so we're gonna go with it."