SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
President Trump issued the third pardon of his administration Friday to Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Libby was Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. He was convicted in 2007 of perjury and obstruction of justice in connection to the leak of the identity of a CIA officer. That CIA officer was Valerie Plame, and she joins us now. Valerie, thanks very much for being with us.
VALERIE PLAME: My pleasure, I think. Although, it's always good to be with you, Scott.
SIMON: Always good to have you. Thanks so much. How do you feel about this pardon?
PLAME: Well, it's certainly not about me. It's definitely not about Scooter Libby, and I think it's all about Trump, Donald Trump, and his future. He's trying to set up a firewall and demonstrate that you can spill the beans, you can cooperate with the special prosecutor, perhaps be convicted - if you're convicted of lying, perjury, obstruction of justice, or otherwise - and you will still get a pardon in the end. So it doesn't really matter what I feel about it. That's what I think is happening.
SIMON: So you don't think this has any connection to anything other than the president's current political difficulties?
PLAME: No, I don't, I mean, this has nothing to do with justice, per se. In fact, you know, you don't have to take my word for it, take President George W. Bush's word for it, who respected the jury's verdict in Scooter Libby's case. He reviewed the facts of the case very carefully because he was under tremendous pressure from his vice president, Dick Cheney, to provide a pardon. And he declined to do so.
And so the timing of Donald Trump's pardon of Scooter Libby is not a coincidence. And you have to wonder, sort of, on top of that, doesn't Donald Trump have better things to do? I mean, yesterday, clearly, he was preparing for strikes in Syria.
SIMON: Well, let me also understand something just for the historical record. In fact, it was not Lewis Libby who leaked your name, was it? That was Richard Armitage, deputy secretary of state, who never was prosecuted.
PLAME: That's not true. In fact, there were quite a few people who were involved. There was a coterie of senior White House Bush officials that were involved in the leak of my name. As you well recall, it was payback for my husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who had written an op-ed piece going after the central narrative that the Bush White House gave for the war of choice in Iraq.
He said the intelligence had been cherry-picked that was used to sell the war to the American people. And the Bush White House didn't take well to that, and as payback, betrayed my covert CIA identity. So it wasn't just - I mean, we can get down in the weeds, but not for this time right now. No, there was quite a few people involved in the leak of my identity.
SIMON: So to put the capper on it, in a way, you don't believe this pardon has anything to do with Scooter Libby, much less you?
PLAME: (Laughter) No, not really. This is all about sending a message about those who commit crimes against national security that he feels free to pardon them. He's got a very small but very important audience to my mind, they would include Manafort, Flynn, Kushner, Cohen. I mean, the news of the past week of the FBI's raid on his lawyer's office was interesting.
SIMON: Former CIA officer, Valerie Plame, thanks so much for being with us. This is NPR News.
PLAME: Thank you, Scott.
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