One of the curious ambiguities of the commutation controversy is what role, if any, Dick Cheney played in the process. As the recent WaPo series made clear, not much happens in this White House without the VP’s direct involvement (i.e., dictation), but what did Cheney do about keeping his former chief of staff out of jail?
The Bush gang has been more than a little cagey about the details, which generally hints at the answer. The WaPo noted on the front page this morning, “An unanswered question last night was Vice President Cheney’s role in advocating leniency for his former chief of staff and alter ego.”
Reporters tried to get a few more details out of Tony Snow yesterday.
At this afternoon’s White House press conference, reporters peppered Tony Snow with questions about Cheney’s possible involvement in the pardon, which Snow refused to answer. “Did the vice president weigh in?” one reporter asked. “I’m sure that everybody had an opportunity to share their views,” Snow replied, failing to note that Bush issued his decision without much consultation.
Later, Snow waffled on Cheney’s involvement, stating on the one hand, “I’m sure that the vice president may have expressed an opinion,” but then backtracking. “He may have recused himself. I honestly don’t know.”
Given the dodging, hedging, and awkward tap-dancing in response to questions about Cheney’s role in this fiasco, and given what we know about Cheney’s role in every fiasco, I hardly think it’s a stretch to suspect the VP’s fingerprints are all over this one.