Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"A pardon in these circumstances would signal that this White House considers itself above the law... (post updated)

The Democratic Senate leadership today sent a letter to President Bush urging that he vow not to pardon I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, if he is convicted in the CIA leak case.

Below are excerpts from the text of the letter:

Dear Mr. President:
The indictment of I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, marks the first time in 131 years that a senior White House official has been charged with a crime while still serving in the White House. The charges, while not yet proven, are extraordinarily serious and deeply disturbing.
Although it is too early to judge Mr. Libby guilty or innocent of these particular charges, it is not too early for you to reassure the American people that you understand the enormous gravity of the allegations. To this end, we urge you to pledge that if Mr. Libby or anyone else is found guilty of a crime in connection with Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation, you will not exercise your authority to issue a Presidential pardon.
It is crucial that you make clear in advance that, if convicted, Mr. Libby will not be able to rely on his close relationship with you or Vice President Cheney to obtain the kind of extraordinarily special treatment unavailable to ordinary Americans...

A pardon in these circumstances would signal that this White House considers itself above the law....

The letter was signed by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, and other ranking Democrats in the Senate.

Update, Nov. 8, 3:42 P. M.: According to Reuters, senior White House staffers will be attending ethics seminars in coming days, as well as courses as to how to handle classified information better. Both Karl Rove and David Addington will be among those will attend. Seriously.

Second Update, Nov. 8, 10:06 P.M.: NYT is reporting tonight that Barbara Comstock and other friends of Libby have set up a legal defense fund for him.