Following up on this item from this morning’s Short Takes, I kind of wish the Secret Service hadn’t taken out the bugs in the Oval office left over from the Nixon administration so that history could record what the conversation was like when Vice President Cheney pushed hard on President Bush to pardon I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby. If the reporting by Tom DeFrank of the New York Daily News is accurate, it wasn’t a pretty moment.
In multiple conversations, both in person and over the telephone, Cheney tried to get Bush to change his mind. Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the federal probe of who leaked covert CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity to the press.
Several sources confirmed Cheney refused to take no for an answer. “He went to the mat and came back and back and back at Bush,” a Cheney defender said. “He was still trying the day before Obama was sworn in.”
After repeatedly telling Cheney his mind was made up, Bush became so exasperated with Cheney’s persistence he told aides he didn’t want to discuss the matter any further.
The unsuccessful full-court press left Cheney bitter. “He’s furious with Bush,” a Cheney source told The News. “He’s really angry about it and decided he’s going to say what he believes.”
Mr. Bush had already commuted Libby’s sentence and taken a lot of heat for it from the left, who saw it as proof that the fix was in, and from the Orcosphere and the True Believers who thought that even if Libby did everything he was accused of — leaked Valerie Plame’s name for the sake of political revenge (and if it had happened in a Democratic administration would have led to impeachment) — he was a true patriot and battling the evil libruls who were plotting even more ways of discrediting their Dear Leader. They thought he should award Libby the Medal of Freedom.
Apparently Vice President Cheney thought so too, or at the very least he thought that by only commuting the sentence, Mr. Bush wavered in his faith that anything done in the name of the Global War on Terror — including outing CIA agents — was righteous.