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"Scooter" Lewis Libby, the ex-chief of staff for former Vice President Dick Cheney who was convicted of perjury (among other things) in 2007.

President Donald Trump participates in a meeting on trade with governors and members of Congress at the White House on April 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. The decision to grant clemency to I.

White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway, while declining at the time to confirm Trump's plans for a pardon, said earlier Friday that "many people think that Scooter Libby was the victim of a special counsel gone amok".

Libby was not accused of leaking the Central Intelligence Agency operative's identity, but he was convicted of lying to the grand jury, a move that some say he did to protect Cheney.

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The special counsel responsible for the probe of Libby was appointed by then-Deputy Attorney-General, James Comey. He served as FBI Director from 2013-2017 when he was sacked by Trump.

"I don't know Mr. Libby", Trump admitted in a statement published by the White House. (Full statement below.) "Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life'".

President George W Bush later commuted Libby's 30-month prison sentence but did not issue a pardon despite intense pressure from Mr Cheney. He had already been reinstated to the bar by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. The pardon comes at a moment when the president faces an escalating special counsel investigation of his own. Even loathed warmonger John Bolton was rescued from post-Bush-era oblivion and hired as Trump's third national security adviser after months of sycophantic ranting on FOX News.

Sanders beat back questions that Trump's pardon was sending a message to those witnesses who might by cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation. "Virtually everyone in Washington thought he should be fired for the bad job he did-until he was, in fact, fired", Trump wrote.

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Libby's attorneys, Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing, issued a statement thanking Trump for "addressing a gross injustice" they said was inflicted by Fitzgerald and Comey. Most notably, he pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff whose crackdown on immigrants in the US illegally, resulted in a conviction for criminal contempt.

Fitzgerald denied that Libby's prosecution was unjust. Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the Libby pardon was Trump's way "of sending a message to those implicated in the Russian Federation investigation: You have my back and I'll have yours".

Mr. Fitzgerald, who had the classified file of Ms. Plame's service, withheld her State Department cover from Ms. Miller-and from Mr. Libby's lawyers, who had requested Ms. Plame's employment history. His record since his conviction is similarly unblemished, and he continues to be held in high regard by his colleagues and peers.

NPR political reporter Jessica Taylor contributed.

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