Late Night Speculation Open Thread: The Permanent GOP Washes Its Hands of Donald Trump

Or so — in conjunction with Paul Ryan’s run for the exits — I have to assume. They no longer have any interest in defending the current Oval Office occupants, just in pushing through whatever convenient pardons and legal shortcuts can be managed before the collapse. There will be pushback on a Libby pardon, media attention to the high crimes & misdemeanors of the Bush Regency crime cartel for which Libby took his fall, and (apart from pwning the libs) no immediate upside for Donald J. Trump, Oval Office Occupant. Since Donny Dollhand has never been one to do a favor without promise of immediate reciprocation, presumably the GOP has promised him something of value in return. Ceremonial burning of the much-discussed pee tape? Cancellation of all his many debts? Pallets of gold bullion and a safe escape flight to a Sevastopol hideaway, or the rumored Bush family compound in Paraguay?…

Per the NYTimes, because they’re the experts on the delicate handling of sensitive topics for plutocrats and other Republicans:

Mr. Libby’s case has long been a cause for conservatives who maintained that he was a victim of a special prosecutor run amok, an argument that may have resonated with the president. Mr. Trump has repeatedly complained that the special counsel investigation into possible cooperation between his campaign and Russia in 2016 has gone too far and amounts to an unfair “witch hunt.”

Mr. Libby, who goes by Scooter, was convicted of four felonies in 2007 for perjury before a grand jury, lying to F.B.I. investigators and obstruction of justice during an investigation into the disclosure of the work of Valerie Plame Wilson, a C.I.A. officer. President George W. Bush commuted Mr. Libby’s 30-month prison sentence but refused to grant him a full pardon despite the strenuous requests of Mr. Cheney, a decision that soured the relationship between the two men.

A pardon of Mr. Libby would paradoxically put Mr. Trump in the position of absolving one of the chief architects of the Iraq war, which Mr. Trump has denounced as a catastrophic miscalculation. It would also mean he was forgiving a former official who was convicted in a case involving leaks despite Mr. Trump’s repeated inveighing against those who disclose information to reporters.

Critics of Mr. Trump quickly interpreted the prospective pardon as a signal by the president that he would protect those who refuse to turn on their bosses, as Mr. Libby was presumed not to have betrayed Mr. Cheney. Mr. Trump has not ruled out pardons in the Russia investigation.

Mr. Trump has shown no particular interest in Mr. Libby’s case before. In 2015, during his campaign for the White House, Mr. Trump was asked if he would pardon Mr. Libby and declined to say, calling it an irrelevant issue. It was unclear when Mr. Trump would issue the pardon, which was first reported by ABC News…

The case tested the limits of journalistic independence. Judith Miller, then a reporter for The Times, went to prison for 85 days rather than disclose that Mr. Libby had discussed Ms. Wilson with her. She was freed after Mr. Libby released her from any promise of confidentiality…

The case has its connections to Mr. Trump because Mr. Fitzgerald was friends with James B. Comey, who was then the deputy attorney general who assigned him the investigation after the attorney general recused himself. Mr. Cheney long suspected that Mr. Comey was taking revenge for a dispute between them over the legality of a surveillance program…

(I blame it all on the Republicans who advised Gerry Ford to pardon Nixon back in 1974. Without a public examination of all the CREEPster crimes, its perpetrators were free to reemerge repeatedly over the last forty years, trailing foul clouds of treason and financial impropriety every time.)

33 replies
  1. 1

    Like Trump even knows who Libby is. This has Bolton’s fingerprints all over it.

  2. 2
    NotMax says:

    the Republicans who advised Gerry Ford to pardon Nixon back in 1974

    It is known that a pardon was a condition insisted upon by Nixon and agreed to in advance before Nixon would commit to resigning.

  3. 3
    RandomMonster says:

    Is Libby even doing time anymore, or just sitting around enjoying his money in early retirement?

  4. 4
    JWR says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    This has Bolton’s fingerprints all over it.

    My thought exactly.

    Also too, dang it! I just commented on the tail-end of the last thread about this pardon business, so please forgive me for posting it here as well… “About this Libby pardon thing. I seem to remember something about the difference between a pardon and a commutation, (the former being Cheney’s choice, and the latter of which was granted by Bush), it being that a commutation could shield Libby from further prosecution, but that a pardon would not? Am I misremembering the difference betwixt the two? Am I remembering something I read on Firedoglake? (Hey! FDL was a fairly nice place to visit before Jane went completely bonkers with her ban hammer.) Also, was or is there a statute of limitations on Libby’s criminal behavior?”

  5. 5
    NotMax says:

    That Cheney’s other consigliere, David Addington, got off scot-free still rankles.

    @RandomMonsterIt’s right there, up top.

    President George W. Bush commuted Mr. Libby’s 30-month prison sentence

  6. 6
    Anne Laurie says:

    @NotMax:

    It is known that a pardon was a condition insisted upon by Nixon and agreed to in advance before Nixon would commit to resigning.

    And?

    We should’ve tried Tricky Dick when we had the chance. The official talking point was that a trial would “tear the country apart”, but it was only the Republican Party and its members that stood to be exposed as thieves and criminals. Gerry jumped at a political upgrade of a kind he’d never imagined, and the rest of us have been paying for it ever since.

  7. 7
    NotMax says:

    @Anne Laurie

    While it may exist, I’ve never seen any evidence of pressure being applied to Ford to accept the granting of a pardon as a condition of the resignation by anyone other than Nixon and what was left of his immediate circle of White House hangers-on. The onus of agreeing to that condition is Ford’s and Ford’s alone.

  8. 8
    NotMax says:

    @Anne Laurie

    To elucidate further, if you have evidence of who the “Republicans who advised Gerry Ford to pardon Nixon” were, would be anxious to review it. AFAIK this is an unsubstantiated claim.

    There was by that point no question that, post-impeachment, Nixon would be convicted in the Senate, in which case Ford would have become president without agreeing to the granting of a pardon.

  9. 9

    @NotMax: also it’s not like he actually had to follow through.

  10. 10
    NotMax says:

    @Major Major Major Major

    There’s much to be said about Ford that is far from flattering, but IMHO being dishonorable isn’t one of them. However misguided or ill-conceived his word may have been, I do believe he perceived it as his bond.

  11. 11

    @NotMax: fair enough, can’t say I know much about the man.

  12. 12
    TriassicSands says:

    It seems highly likely that Trump doesn’t consider either lying to the FBI or obstruction of justice to be actual crimes. They’re really just necessary ways of conducting business — substitute anyone Trump ever did business with for the FBI and the obstruction of justice is just a different form of the dishonesty Trump brought to every lawsuit he was ever involved in.

  13. 13

    @TriassicSands: Trump thinks he’s a “stable genius” because he can get away without following the norms and rules that inhibit others, that’s the “Art of the Deal” in a nutshell.

  14. 14
    hervevillechaizelounge says:

    As someone too young to remember the Nixon era it’s insane to me how many of the players seemed to face no repercussions.

    Why is Henry Kissinger still lauded as an elder statesman instead of moldering in prison? And how the hell did smirking baboon Donald Segretti get accepted into the bar? He served time in prison, for fuck’s sake!

    I don’t expect the republican party to act morally, but why doesn’t the press do more to remind the public who these people really are? Every NYT story about
    Roger Stone should begin: “Self-confessed cuckhold and self-professed sleazy campaign maneuvers expert Roger Stone.”

    TBT, I’m almost as angry at democrats as I am at republicans; why the hell didn’t we demand justice? When Johnson found out Nixon screwed the Nam peace talks he should’ve had him executed for treason.

    Slightly OT: I only recently learned shrieking harpy Jeanne Pirro’s hubby is an ex-con. Bill’s blowjob has been haunting Hillary for 25 years but Pirro’s husband’s FELONIES don’t reflect badly on her? Seems legit.

  15. 15
    JGabriel says:

    President Trump is poised to pardon Scooter Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, POTUS has signed off on the pardon …

    So … if anyone (Hello, Congressional Democrats!) wants to reopen the Plame investigation, Libby can be forced to testify. Libby no longer has the 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination with respect to the Plame matter, because now he’s been pardoned for it.

  16. 16
    TriassicSands says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    We should’ve tried Tricky Dick when we had the chance.

    The great mistake then (or one of them) was in thinking that the country couldn’t withstand the impact of holding a president accountable for his crimes. That same faulty reasoning continued and was at the very least an excuse for the five right-wingers on SCOTUS to hand Bush the victory in 2000.

    By repeatedly undervaluing the strength and resilience of our democracy we have (probably) permanently weakened it and created a situation in which a legal threat to a president is seen as an existential threat to our system. Right now, we have an existential threat to our system sitting in the White House (and the Congress) and the only adequate response is to hold Trump fully accountable for everything he has done.

    Yes, there will be severe unrest, perhaps considerable violence among Trump supporters, but that is no excuse for failing to do what needs to be done.

    Congress should immediately begin the constitutional amendment process and spell out explicitly that a president can not pardon himself. The amendment could include more than that — for example, disallow the pardoning of others implicated in or convicted of crimes and unconstitutional activities in the service of the president or any of his subordinates.

  17. 17
    JGabriel says:

    @RandomMonster:

    Is Libby even doing time anymore, or just sitting around enjoying his money in early retirement?

    Libby never did any time in prison. Bush commuted Libby’s prison sentence, but didn’t pardon him – likely to preserve Libby’s 5th Amendment rights in the Plame case. Which Trump just obliterated.

  18. 18
    TriassicSands says:

    @hervevillechaizelounge:

    Bill’s blowjob has been haunting Hillary for 25 years but Pirro’s husband’s FELONIES don’t reflect badly on her? Seems legit.

    Different standards apply to presidents. That’s why the GOP is being so tough on Trump.

    Oh. Wait.

    Revision: Different standards apply to Republicans.

  19. 19
    Amir Khalid says:

    @JGabriel:
    So what does that mean, in terms of legal consequences? Can Libby now be called to testify or something?
    ETA: Never mind. I see you’ve slready answered my question.

  20. 20
    mainmata says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Absolutely, an NSC of the Worst of the Worst is what the Angry ‘Stache wants.

  21. 21

    @hervevillechaizelounge: Quite a few of Nixon’s folk ended up doing time.

  22. 22
    JWR says:

    @JGabriel:

    Libby no longer has the 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination with respect to the Plame matter, because now he’s been pardoned for it.

    That’s what I was remembering! Thank you, kind person.

  23. 23

    @JWR: That depends on the scope of the pardon; if it’s just for what he was convicted for, he already could testify without invoking his 5th Amendment rights since he had already been convicted and couldn’t be tried again(double jeopardy).

    ETA: If the scope of the pardon is wider, then it could affect his ability to testify on matters related to the Plame case that didn’t include what he was convicted on.

    ETA II: For example, Nixon’s pardon was really broad(and some questioned it’s constitutionality at the time) to include ALL CRIMES committed against the United States during a certain time period.

  24. 24
    JR says:

    @Major Major Major Major: My thoughts exactly.

  25. 25
    oatler. says:

    If these criminals are released back into the wild does that make them, uh, fair game?

  26. 26
    Gvg says:

    My thought is the pardon is for outing a CIA agent for political gain. I always thought it was Treason myself. I wonder how the CIA will take this? CAn they get any angrier at Trump? Is this spite against them?

  27. 27
    Amir Khalid says:

    Trump got away with pardoning Arpaio before Arpaio could be sentenced. It’s a pity that the practice before Trump of not pardoning before a sentence was served was only a tradition and not a law. You Americans might want to look at changing that.

  28. 28
    bystander says:

    @hervevillechaizelounge: Pirro’s husband was a total sleaze. She was Westchester NY DA IIRC at the time he was caught for tax fraud. Although crack attorney Jeannine signed the taxes, she knew nothing, nothing, I tell you, about the fraudulent tax returns she signed. Then she found out he was cheating on her, so she illegally wiretapped his boat so she could get recordings of him shtupping his hoors. She’s a paragon of repub virtue.

  29. 29
    JWR says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA:

    ..if it’s just for what he was convicted for, he already could testify without invoking his 5th Amendment rights..

    Okay, but could he still be compelled to answer questions, not testify, about his role in L’Affaire Plame, or would there first have to be an official investigation about… something, maybe about future employ within the T admin, (provided said position req’d congressional approval), and just so as to avoid the “we were just curious” excuse?

    @oatler.: Heh. Good one.

  30. 30
    raven says:

    Ha, Joe is on a tirade about how stupid Trumps lawyers think he is! OOO, now coward is in play!!!!

  31. 31

    @JWR: It would depend on the scope of the pardon. If the pardon doesn’t cover his role in the Plame affair, he could still invoke his 5th Amendment rights.

  32. 32
    mainmata says:

    @TriassicSands: I think the idea you suggest of a Presidential pardon qualification amendment. Especially if it pertains to the President or subordinates who committed criminals on his behalf. That way it doesn’t affe the broader pardon of people imprisoned either falsely or for petty crimes. In other words, if it is clearly a political move by the President it can’t be pardoned. That would cover Arpaio. (Though that might be challengeable in court I suppose.)

  33. 33
    kingweasil says:

    new chief of staff, scooter libby? lol

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