The Odds of a Pardon for Scooter Libby

NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr says that a presidential pardon for Lewis Libby remains a definite possibility.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Now that he's been convicted, the saga of Lewis "Scooter" Libby moves into its next phase. Already there's speculation about a possible pardon by President Bush. NPR's senior news analyst Daniel Schorr says he wouldn't be surprised if that happens.

DANIEL SCHORR: In the pardon proclamation, President Bush praised him as a true American patriarch. Relax, that was President Bush the elder extending clemency near the end of his term for former Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger and others involved in the Iran-Contra scandal.

A pardon for Lewis Libby must be considered a definite possible if only because of the widespread impression that he is the fall guy in an act of loyalty to his erstwhile mentor, Vice President Dick Cheney.

The closest Libby ever came to implicating the vice president in the leaking of the identity of a covert CIA officer was three years ago, when special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald asked him three times whether he had discussed with Cheney planting with reporters the identity of Valerie Plame. Libby said: May have.

But Fitzgerald was frustrated at his inability to get the vice president's chief of staff to testify against him. When defense counsel accused Fitzgerald of trying to put a cloud over the vice president's head, Fitzgerald responded that there was a cloud over the vice president's head because of what he had done.

Yesterday in conversations at the end of the trial, some jurors expressed a belief that Libby was taking the heat for Cheney. The vice president never testified for the defense.

So where does the faithful Scooter Libby go from here? Under federal sentencing guidelines, he could be sentenced to several years in prison, but first comes the motion for a new trial and then the appeal, and then as President Bush's days in office grow shorter, maybe then the idea of a pardon will arise.

Libby, incidentally, knows something about pardons. Fugitive financier Mark Rich was pardoned by President Clinton on his last morning in office and Scooter Libby had been one of his lawyers.

This is Daniel Schorr.

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