Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) said Sunday that President Donald Trump’s pardon of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, was meant to send a message about the Russia investigation.
Schiff said on ABC’s “This Week” that it was not credible Trump could have chosen to pardon Libby at random. Schiff did not address the specifics of Libby’s conviction.
“You would have to believe that the president picked the Scooter Libby out of a hat, out of the thousands of people seeking a pardon, this was a complete coincidence,” Schiff said. “I don’t find that the least bit credible.”
Schiff said Trump utilized the pardon to tell people he is willing to pardon them if they obstruct justice to shield the president in the investigation into Russian election interference.
“I think the president is sending a message, basically: ‘I will use the pardon power to pardon people even that have been convicted of leaking or obstruction of justice. If you’re with me, I have your back.’ I think that is the very blatant message the president is trying to send,” Schiff said.
Then Schiff described legislation he is proposing to mandate the president provide information to Congress about those he pardons.
“I am working on legislation in which any pardon the president issues in which he is a potential witness, subject, or target, the files ought to be provided to Congress so the American people can tell whether this is part of an obstruction of justice,” Schiff said.
The White House’s explanation of Libby’s pardon was quite different from Schiff’s. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday that Libby’s pardon was based partly on the evidence in his favor.
“In 2015, one of the key witnesses against Mr. Libby recanted her testimony, stating publicly that she believes the prosecutor withheld relevant information from her during interviews that would have altered significantly what she said,” Sanders said. “The next year, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals unanimously reinstated Mr. Libby to the bar, reauthorizing him to practice law. The Court agreed with the District of Columbia Disciplinary Counsel, who stated that Mr. Libby had presented ‘credible evidence’ in support of his innocence, including evidence that a key prosecution witness had ‘changed her recollection of the events in question.'”