Three months after his felony conviction on perjury and obstruction of justice charges, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, 56, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, has been sentenced to 2.5 years in prison and fined $250,000. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald asked U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton to impose a sentence of 30 to 37 months, on the grounds that Libby had lied about his role in leaking the identity of former CIA staffer Valerie Plame and impeded a serious investigation, and has not expressed remorse. Libby’s lawyers argued for leniency, considering that no one was ever charged with leaking Plame’s identity and that Libby wasn’t even the original leaker.
Libby is appealing his conviction. Walton does not appear disposed to allow Libby to remain free while his appeal plays out, as is common practice in white collar cases, according toThe Washington Post. A hearing to determine Libby’s fate is scheduled for next week.
During their third debate last night in Manchester, NH, CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer asked the 10 Republican candidates whether they would pardon Libby, The New York Timesreports:
[W]hile none of the top candidates said, outright, they would take such a course if President, they also voiced dismay at his sentence. Mr. Giuliani was the most outspoken, saying the sentence was “way out of line.” Citing his experience both as a prosecutor and recommending pardon while working in the Justice Department under President Reagan, he said he would seriously consider it, especially in light of the harsh sentence.
When Mr. Blitzer, tried to cut him off, he stopped him, saying, “A man’s life is at stake.” He said that it was “incomprehensible” made all the more disturbing because there was no underlying crime, and he had a real problem with the sentence.
Mr. Romney, following Mr. Giuliani, also criticized the sentence and left the door open for a pardon. Mr. McCain, who answered first, said that since the case was still being appealed he did not think it proper to comment.
President Bush has hitherto brushed aside all talk of pardoning Liibby until the appellate process has run its course – which is to say, after the 2008 election. But now, Bush has less than a week to act so that a loyal, hard-working aide is spared imprisonment.
The Stiletto adds her voice to the growing chorus of those who ask Bush to pardon Libby.
[EditorialNote: Though he did not participate in the debate, Fred Thompson, who is also a former prosecutor, is already on record as stating that he would pardon Libby immediately.]
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