Adviser: Bush aided Libby to avoid 'fracture' with Cheney
In an article entitled "Friends in high places," a renowned investigative reporter gets "inside Bush's decision to give Scooter Libby a pass."
"Hanging over his deliberations was Cheney, who had said he was 'very disappointed' with the jury's verdict," Michael Isikoff reports for Newsweek. "Cheney did not directly weigh in with Fielding, but nobody involved had any doubt where he stood."
One White House adviser who had been "briefed on the deliberations" told Newsweek's Isikoff, "I'm not sure Bush had a choice."
"If he didn't act, it would have caused a fracture with the vice president," the adviser added.
Excerpts from Isikoff's article:
In part, Bush may have stopped short of a full pardon precisely to keep Libby and other White House aides away from Democrats on Capitol Hill. Investigators in Congress are eager to call Libby to testify about the Plame case and prewar Iraq intel—an invitation Libby can continue to resist by claiming he can't talk as long as his appeal remains alive in the courts.
The White House has used the same line to shield itself from questions about the case. When the effort to discredit Wilson surfaced in 2003, Bush vowed to fire anyone on his staff who leaked classified information about Plame to the press. Last week a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Tony Snow why Bush hadn't dismissed Karl Rove—who was found to be one of the White House leakers. "We are not going to make comments in detail until the legal process is over," Snow responded. "And it is not—there is still an appeal." Nobody at the White House would be disappointed if that appeal just happened to drag on until Jan. 20, 2009.
FULL NEWSWEEK ARTICLE AT THIS LINK