Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

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Thursday, June 14, 2007
Scooter Libby and the hypocrite express
How to explain the striking reversal of mindset among "law and order" Republicans who called for the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton for purportedly misleading a grand jury in a civil sex case, and for, in the insistent words of people like Victoria Toensing and her equally natty husband Joseph DeGenova: "obstructing justice" in the Paula Jones case. President Clinton was, in fact, impeached for perjury and obstruction, though he was acquitted in the Senate.

Now, however, this collection of law-abiders, many of whom are, like DeGenova, Toensing and "Mr. 9/11," Rudy Giuliani, former federal prosecutors. And yet now, they have discovered a certain sympathy for the obstructor.

Even Chris Matthews can see through his fellow Clinton bashers' hypocrisy. Here was DeGenova on Hardball last night (along with Richard Ben Veniste, who got quite a chuckle out of the exchange). First, on whether Libby should, or will, be pardoned:


Joe diGenova, first up, should Scooter Libby be pardoned by President Bush?

DIGENOVA: Absolutely, and the sooner the better.

MATTHEWS: Do you believe he will act?

DIGENOVA: The president?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

DIGENOVA: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Will he do what you want him to do?

DIGENOVA: Oh, no, he is going to pardon Scooter Libby. There‘s no question about it.

The equities here, everything point toward it. And, while the president has not been a serial pardoner—he and his father have not issued a lot of pardons during their presidencies—this is a—this is a case that cries out for a pardon. And the justification for it is evident. And I don‘t think there‘s any question that the president will do it.

The key will be whether or not Judge Walton sends Scooter Libby to prison in 60 days, or 40 days, or whatever it is.

MATTHEWS: Right.

DIGENOVA: The president will then have to act at the end of those 60 days, because, if Scooter Libby spends one day in prison, the black mark on this president‘s tenure in office will be indelible.

MATTHEWS: And it will be his black mark on Bush, not on Scooter Libby, as you see it?

DIGENOVA: No question about that, Chris, no question.

But I think the president is going to do it. And I think he understands the reasons for it, all of which are out on the public record.
And then, on the question of whether what Libby did -- lying to the FBI and a grand jury in a case involving, not sex, but the outing of a covert CIA agent working to protect this country's national security interests with respect to WMD. DiGenova's answers are pure GOPer talking points ("Plame wasn't covert" -- although she has definitively been proved to have been just that, Victoria's vapid fulminations aside, etc., etc.,) sprinkled with hypocrisy -- but unfortunately, no substance:


MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask Richard Ben-Veniste.

Should—should Scooter Libby be pardoned by this president in 60 days?

BEN-VENISTE: I think that is—that is entirely up to the president.

He has the right, in his discretion, to do it.

If he stood up and said, look, Scooter Libby, he was doing our bidding, that this whole attack on the Wilsons, outing Valerie Wilson, who was a covert operative of the CIA, a case officer of the CIA, which our government had invested millions of dollars in developing, casually outed by the administration, through Scooter Libby, if the president wants to step up to the plate and say, I‘m responsible, and I will be a man, and I will take that responsibility by acknowledging it, and issuing a pardon, then so be it.

Let him take the political heat for it and do it. I‘m of the view that—frankly, that, unless somebody is a danger to the community, unless a—an appeal is completely frivolous, that bail ought to be granted, pending an appeal, because people should not go to jail until they are adjudged guilty, and that means through appeal.

But, with respect to the pardon, that is entirely up to the president.

MATTHEWS: Jerry Ford, the former president, the late president now, pardoned Richard Nixon, under the belief that the Burdick decision, which was a precedent, held that a person who accepts a federal pardon from a president is accepting guilt.

Do you accept that as a precedent and as a matter of law, Joe diGenova?

DIGENOVA: I—I don‘t—first of all, there is no law on that question.

Whatever the president says who issues the pardon can say that. A president can say whatever he or she wants or say nothing when a pardon is issued.

Let me just make one point about the under—the alleged underlying crime which was never charged here...

MATTHEWS: Right.

DIGENOVA: ... and apparently never committed, which was outing an agent, when you know that he or she is an agent.

The first person to mention Valerie‘s name was not Scooter Libby. It was Richard Armitage, the undersecretary of state, in a flippant way, to Bob Woodward and to Robert Novak. Scooter Libby confirmed later in—at least three or four times that he had spoken about Ms. Wilson with reporters...

MATTHEWS: Right.

DIGENOVA: ... ultimately confirmed that.

So, the bottom line here is—and—and, by the way, if the CIA was attempting to take active measures, affirmative measures, to protect the identity of Valerie Plame, let me tell you something, their—their—their tradecraft stinks, because you would not send a covert agent‘s—which I believe she was not—a covert officer‘s...

MATTHEWS: OK.

DIGENOVA: ... husband overseas, and then let him write an op-ed piece about it, and then do a number of other things that clearly were not designed to protect her cover.

MATTHEWS: Joe—Joe, did you support—did you support the impeachment of President Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice?

DIGENOVA: Absolutely. I did.

MATTHEWS: What was the underlying crime then?

DIGENOVA: Obstructing a trial—a civil...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, what was the underlying—what was the underlying crime?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You‘re asking for—you—now, this guy is guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice.

But what—you‘re saying he doesn‘t have an underlying crime there. But what was the underlying crime with Bill Clinton? Monica Lewinsky, that was the underlying crime?

DIGENOVA: No. Actually, it was a civic proceeding...

MATTHEWS: Right.

DIGENOVA: ... in which there was a case pending in a United States district court.

MATTHEWS: Right.

DIGENOVA: And the—the—the president, apparently, according to the reason he—he gave up the practice of law for a period of time was because he did not tell the truth during a deposition.

MATTHEWS: Well, but neither did—neither did Scooter Libby. So, they are guilty of the same charge.

(CROSSTALK)
By "crosstalk," the transcriber means "humminahumminahummina..." because that's about the stuttering and stammering that came from DiGenova at that stage. Pathetic.

It's a fascinating argument DiGenova puts forth, however, since the fact that there was no underlying crime was the main reason Bill Clinton couldn't have been found guilty of perjury. But in Libby's case, there was an underlying crime -- knowingly disclosing the name of a covert operative -- but it couldn't be proven because of Libby's lies and obstruction. In other words, Libby put himself on the line to prevent prosecutors from proving the underlying crime -- whether that crime was committed by himself (unlikely) or others (bingo.) Now, Libby is being ordered to go directly to jail. He's Paris Hilton, baby, not Martha Stewart. And do you want to know why, Joe DiGenova? Hm? Mr. Prosecutor and former independent counsel who seems to have forgotten the law??? He's going to jail because prosecutors know HE IS STILL HIDING INFORMATION ABOUT THE UNDERLYING CRIME, IN ORDER TO PROTECT OTHERS, most probably the vice president of the United States. In jail, he has a much better chance of coming to his senses, rather than at home with his kids. It's kind of prosecution 101, deary.

Anyway, if you'd like to laugh at Joe the way I did last night, you can see his embarassing performance for yourself. C&L has the video.

It's not just DiGenova, of course, as Intoxication pointed out last week:

So now we have all the wingnuts beating their pardon chests harder and louder. From the National Review to William Kristol, the calls for pardon are getting louder. As matter of fact, today's Washington Post says that "pardon is a topic to sensitive to mention" in the West Wing...
And let's not forget Mr. Giuliani, the former federal prosecutor who, like DiGenova, seems to have mellowed over the years in his attitudes toward obstructing justice and lying to the FBI.

These people have no souls. Have fun in the big house, Scooter!
Update: WaPo's Dan Froomkin reports the White House has ruled out a pardon until the Libby appeal is complete, which could be in months, or even years. Not a good look for the neocons' neocon, but you never know, Bushie might just get religion and decide to do Bill Kristol's bidding (of course, there is the matter of Scooter's being Cheney's boy, not Bush's, but there you go) ... By the way, there is a simple exit strategy for Scooter, which will get him out of jail, most likely: he can recover his memory about precisely what the vice president told him to do with regard to Valerie Plame, and make a proffer to the special prosecutor to spill his guts. Tick, tock, Scooter...

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