By pardoning Libby, Trump sends a message

President Trump has pardoned Scooter Libby, vice president Cheney’s former chief of staff. Libby was found by a jury to have committed perjury and obstruction of justice, and to have made false statements, in connection with an investigation by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.

It could hardly be more obvious that Trump’s pardon of Libby is designed to send the message that he is prepared to pardon those charged with (and even convicted of) making false statements in connection with the Russia “collusion” matter.

The parallel between Fitzgerald and Robert Mueller is also obvious. Fitzgerald didn’t convict anyone of the underlying “crime” he was charged with investigating — the “outing” of Valerie Plame. So far, Mueller hasn’t charged anyone with colluding with Russia. Rather, it’s been mostly about alleged false statements, just as it was with Libby.

As if to drive home his point, Trump made no serious attempt to address Libby’s case. He said, in essence, that he doesn’t know Libby, but heard he got a raw deal. Normally, this isn’t the stuff of pardons.

There’s a case for pardoning Libby, but Trump wasn’t interested in making it. The pardon wasn’t about Libby, and it was in Trump’s interest not to disguise this reality.