WASHINGTON (Circa) -- President Donald Trump issued a pardon for Scooter Libby, the former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney who was convicted of several charges in relation to the outing of former CIA operative Valerie Plame.
Libby was convicted in 2007 of obstruction of justice, making false statements to federal investigators, and two counts of perjury, and was sentenced to 30 months in jail and a $250,000 fine. Cheney had pushed President George W. Bush to pardon Libby before leaving office, but the former president opted to commute the jail sentence, a decision which reportedly contributed to the fracturing of their relationship.
Libby's conviction was controversial. Some have suggested he took the fall to ultimately protect Cheney, who described him as a "victim of a severe miscarriage of justice."
"But you know, many people think that Scooter Libby was a victim of a special counsel gone amok," Kellyanne Conway, counselor to Trump, told reporters Friday. Patrick Fitzgerald, the special counsel tasked with investigating the Plame affair, was appointed by former FBI Director James Comey, though Conway insisted the pardon is not about him. Trump reportedly was considering the pardon for months, according to ABC news.
Plame criticized the decision while appearing on MNBC. She noted that it shows "that you can commit crimes against national security and you will be pardoned," according to The Associated Press.
It's not the first controversial pardon Trump has made. His first pardoned Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of contempt of court after he failed to abide by a court ruling instructing him to cease racial profiling practices in his department. The 85-year-old is now running for a seat in the Arizona state senate.
Libby, a lawyer by training, had his law license restored in 2016. Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell restored his voting rights in 2013.
The Libby pardon will be Trump's third since taking office. His second was granted to a U.S. Navy sailor who was convicted after taking pictures inside a classified submarine.