Cheney to Hannity: I Still Disagree With 'W' Over Scooter Libby

Thursday, 01 Sep 2011 03:25 PM

By David A. Patten

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In a second interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity airing Thursday at 9 p.m.. Eastern, former Vice President Dick Cheney reveals the inside story regarding his confrontation with former President George W. Bush over his refusal to pardon top Cheney aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby.
 
Cheney says he learned of the president’s decision not to pardon Libby, whose sentence Bush already had commuted, while the two were eating lunch together in a small office next to the Oval Office as they had every week since the duo assumed office.
 
“Those were great sessions, important sessions, but this was one, obviously, that took place under this cloud that at that meeting he informed me there weren't going to be any more pardons,” Cheney told Hannity. “And as a result of that, that meant that Scooter wasn't going to have a pardon.  And I thought he thoroughly deserved one.  I thought he was an innocent man who had been badly treated by the system.”

Editor’s Note: Dick Cheney discusses the debate over the Scotter Libby pardon in his new book, “In My Time.” Click here to get it FREE (while supplies last).
 
Libby, who served as Cheney’s chief of staff, was indicted in October 2005 on two counts of perjury, two counts of making false statements, and one count of obstruction of justice. All five counts were classic examples of “process crimes” peripherally related to the originally issue, which was the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson by the late columnist Robert Novak. Plame had been instrumental in having her husband, retired diplomat Joseph C. Wilson, sent to Niger to investigate reports of that Iraq had purchased uranium yellowcake there.
 
Wilson concluded those reports were false, but the Bush administration relied instead on faulty British intelligence reports indicating the sale had occurred. Wilson’s report to the contrary was later used by the left to suggest the Bush administration had falsified its evidence again Saddam Hussein’s regime, to create a pretext for invading Iraq. There is no indication the White House was even aware Wilson’s report had been filed away deep in the bowels of the CIA, however. 
 
During the trial, it emerged that then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, a political moderate and close ally of Secretary of State Colin Powell, was actually the one who leaked Plame’s identity to the media. Armitage was never charged by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald with a crime.
 
After being convicted on four of the five charges based on statements he made during the investigation, Libby was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison and pay a $250,000 fine. In July 2007, Bush exercised his executive authority to commute the 30 months in jail. But Cheney wanted Bush to pardon Libby altogether for the convictions, which many Republicans believed stemmed from a political witch hunt.
 
Journalist Christopher Hitchens reported on August 2006 that Fitzgerald had known from the very beginning of his investigation that Armitage was the original leaker. A month after that report, Armitage revealed that he had been instructed by Fitzgerald not to go public with this information, however.
 
In July 2006, longtime columnist Novak wrote: “For nearly the entire time of his investigation, Fitzgerald knew -- independent of me -- the identity of the sources I used in my column of July 14, 2003.”
 
Cheney felt Libby was unfairly treated by the legal system, and tells Hannity there was “tension in the room” when he learned of Bush’s decision.
 
“He felt strongly about it; I felt strongly about it,” Cheney says. “A short time later, we went out to Andrews Air Force Base on our last day in office after we had sworn in President Obama and so forth and we flew out to Andrews.”
 
From there Bush returned to Texas, and Cheney left for his home state of Wyoming.
 
“I thought that it was appropriate that there would be a pardon and that Scooter be pardoned,” Cheney tells Hannity. “The president disagreed. He's the one who had to make the decision. And at the tail end of the administration, the last week we were in office, he decided there wouldn't be any more pardons and that meant there wasn't going to be a pardon for Scooter.
 
“I disagreed with that,” Cheney says. “I still disagree with it. Obviously, I've got a lot of respect for the president. I'm delighted he gave me the opportunity to serve. We had our disagreements and this was one of them.”

In a November 2010 interview with NBC’s “Today Show,” the former president said he was worried that perhaps he had lost Cheney’s friendship forever over that decision.
 
"He wanted me to pardon him," Bush said. "It was the last decision of the presidency, really. I chose to let the jury verdict stand after some serious deliberation, and the Vice President was angry."
 
Later, the two mended fences, and Cheney is generally complimentary toward Bush in his memoir.
 
“I have got a lot of respect for George Bush,” Cheney says. “I was delighted to work for him, honored to be asked, pleased that he gave me tremendous opportunities to serve. As I say, he made many courageous decisions as president. I had hoped that this would be one of them, but unfortunately it wasn't.”

Editor’s Note: Dick Cheney discusses the debate over the Scotter Libby pardon in his new book, “In My Time.” Click here to get it FREE (while supplies last).

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