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AM Joy: Why The Libby Pardon Is Such A Big Deal

And why it won't really work.
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Joy Reid and guests dug into the implications behind the Scooter Libby pardon on AM Joy this morning.

"You really cannot make this stuff up," Reid said. "Libby's sentence was commuted by President George W. Bush, who notably refused to pardon him, causing what was a permanent rift with Cheney.

"What message was Trump trying to send -- and more importantly, to whom?

"I'm going to start by noting, Nick, that was Trump's fourth presidential pardon, the first being Joe Arpaio back in August of 2017 and now Scooter Libby with two people in between. Scooter Libby's crimes that he was convicted of included four felony counts obstruction of justice, giving false statements to the FBI and two counts of perjury in grand jury testimony. All very interesting in light of current events -- and I'll just quickly read the statement from his lawyer.

"'We commend President Trump for addressing a gross injustice and granting a pardon. Libby was wrongfully convicted in 2007 of a politically motivated prosecution arising from a phony scandal that had no underlying crime as the basis for investigation.' That was Victoria Toensing and her husband Joe DiGenova, who Donald Trump recently tried to hire.

"What do you make of the claim by the attorney that he was wrongfully convicted?"

"There was one witness who did recount, a New York Times reporter (Editor's note: The infamous Judith Miller), but there were a whole series of witnesses who testified against him upon which the jury could have easily found beyond a reasonable doubt that he lied and obstructed of justice," NIck Akerman said.

"What's odd here is the timing and why is he doing it now? And the procedure? This does not appear to have gone through the normal Department of Justice procedure that most -- all pardons pretty much go through that procedure."

"This did not, just as it didn't with the Arpaio one. You have to ask, why did he do it now? I think part of it is that Joe (DiGenova) and his wife, who you just mentioned, have Trump's ear and anybody who has Trump's ear can get him to do something, if you're the last person in the door. So that's part of it. The second part is, he's trying to send a message and be Mr. Macho, 'I have the pardon power, so I've got your back. Just hang tough. Don't cooperate and you're going to be pardoned ultimately.'"


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"Funny you should say that and you also say New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who is the reporter in question for the New York Times and you'll recall she was one of the people who made the very vigorous case for invading Iraq based on some really poor reporting and Chalabi, her main source there, has resurfaced. She is on Fox News on Friday and here is what he said about the pardon.

"I have no insight into what President Trump thinks or tweets, or why he does it. I can simply say that his critics will surely say that this is a signal to anyone who is thinking of cooperating with Robert Mueller, don't do it because President Trump will pardon you. I hope that's not his intention. I hope his intention is to right a historical wrong, but I don't know what's going on inside that head of his.

"Even Judith Miller," Reid said.

"But she is very hashtag-FreeLibby," criminal defense attorney Seema Iyer said. "It's interesting because she recanted back in 2015. It's been a while. It's exactly what Nick says, why is this all happening now? Because, yes, Trump wants to send a message that if you are loyal, I will say to you except he cannot pardon people who are prosecuted by the state. And right now, with all these pending investigations in front of a grand jury in New York.

"As well as possible in Virginia against Manafort and Gates they could be possibly prosecuted by the State of Virginia and perhap other investigations, Trump won't be able to save them," she said.

"The New York investigation right now that seized documents from Cohen is still federal but there's a possibility that it could become a state investigation," Reid said.

"There's been reporting saying that Southern district is taking on the investigation. I don't believe that for a minute," Akerman said.

"The fact of the matter is, by statute, to seize items in the Southern district, you have to have the judge in the Southern district order the search warrant. That's normally what happens in the Southern district. I was there for eight and a half years.

"We would never let some other attorney come in and ask for that search warrant.

"So I think what's really going on is part of a larger investigation, and the question is out of those crimes they may discover, are they also state crimes?

"And I think there are a number of state crimes here that relate to the theft of e-mails from the Democratic National Committee, the fact that there were meetings and Trump Tower acts, the $80 million that Manafort laundered, I mean, that could be charged under either New York or Virginia law," Akerman said.

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