The 30-month prison sentence imposed on former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby yesterday put President Bush in the position of deciding whether to trigger a fresh political storm by pardoning a convicted perjurer or let one of the early architects of his administration head to prison, reports the Washington Post. Officials expect Vice President Cheney to favor a pardon, while other aides worry about the political consequences of stepping into a case that stems from the origins of the Iraq war and renewing questions about the truthfulness of the Bush administration.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton indicated that he’s not inclined to let Libby stay free pending appeals. The judge will hold a hearing next week on the issue. “Obviously, there’d be a significant political price to pay,” said William Barr, who as attorney general to President George H.W. Bush remembers the controversy raised by the post-election pardons for several Iran-contra figures in 1992. “I personally am very sympathetic to Scooter Libby. But it would be a tough call to do it at this stage.” Some White House advisers said the president’s political troubles are already so deep that a pardon might not be so damaging.