Strange Bedfellows: Scooter Libby And Marc Rich

Yesterday’s commutation of Scooter Libby’s prison sentence has rocked Washington and the rest of the nation. Everybody’s got something to bitch about. Democrats are incensed that the President exhibits such contempt for law and order. Republicans are inconsolable that Libby didn’t get a full pardon.

One name keeps coming up as justification for Bush’s action. A name that, not surprisingly, seeks to refocus blame on the GOP’s favorite boogey man, Bill Clinton. It was Clinton that pardoned financier Marc Rich in a move that generated much controversy at the time. Republicans have jumped on that pardon in order to sanitize the President’s obvious special treatment of Libby.

But guess what? Scooter Libby was Marc Rich’s lawyer!

Libby represented Rich at the time the pardon was considered and granted. Libby even defended Rich before Congress while Libby was serving as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff. Here is a bit of Libby’s testimony:

“There are no facts that I know of that support the criminality of the client [Marc Rich] based on the tax returns.”

“[Rich] had not violated the tax laws.”

So when you hear Republicans drag out the canard that Clinton did it too (as if that would make it OK), remind them that the man who is the beneficiary of Bush’s commutation agrees with Clinton’s decision to pardon Rich.

What’s more, the President does not agree with Clinton and said so at the time:

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, on Marc Rich? First of all, I didn’t agree with the decision. I would not have made that decision myself.

Nevertheless, the President did make that decision on behalf of Libby. And that’s not all. It seems that the prosecutor of Libby, Patrick Fitzgerald, also participated in the prosecution of Rich. And if your head isn’t spinning at this point, you are on some pretty potent psychotropic medication.