WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush granted pardons to 29 people on Tuesday but Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, was not among them.
There has been speculation that before he leaves office in January 2009 Bush may pardon Libby, who was convicted in March of perjury and obstructing an investigation into who revealed the identity of a CIA officer, Valerie Plame, whose husband had criticized the Iraq war.
Bush commuted Libby’s 2-1/2-year prison sentence in July, but Cheney’s former chief of staff still had to pay a $250,000 fine. Libby’s attorney said on Monday his client had dropped his appeal of his conviction.
The Justice Department’s list of pardons, issued in the tradition of granting clemency during the holiday season, covered a variety of crimes including cocaine distribution, marijuana manufacturing, mail fraud and bank embezzlement.
Bush has not ruled out a full pardon for Libby, whose case put the inner workings of the White House under a microscope and ignited a debate about whether the Bush administration misled the nation when making the case for war in Iraq.
High-powered allies like Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson raised millions of dollars to cover Libby’s legal bills.
Plame, a CIA analyst, said her unmasking destroyed her career and was done to retaliate against her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who accused the administration of manipulating intelligence to build its case for war.
Reporting by Matt Spetalnick, additional reporting by Andy Sullivan, editing by David Alexander