White House disputes potential pardon is signal to allies in Russia investigation

President Donald Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway denied Friday that he is sending a message by his reported decision to pardon Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, even as she noted critics say he was “the victim of a special counsel run amok.”

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ABC News first reported Thursday evening that sources close to President Trump say he has already signed off on the pardon for Libby, who was sentenced to 30 months in prison in 2007 for lying to the FBI and obstructing justice in the investigation into the leak of the identity of Valerie Plame, a former covert CIA operative.

President Bush commuted that sentence but did not issue a pardon, something Vice President Cheney pushed hard for in the final weeks of the administration.

Plame responded to the news in an interview with MSNBC Friday, saying that she believed the president was sending a political message to allies caught in the Russia investigation.

“It’s very clear that this is a message he is sending that you can commit crimes against national security and you will be pardoned,” Plame said.

Conway was pressed by reporters at the White House on whether it’s the president’s intention to send a message “that it’s okay to lie under oath and to obstruct justice,” and insisted that is not the case.

She then suggested that the longtime attack line from conservative allies of Libby – that he’s merely the victim of an out of control special prosecutor – has resonated with the president.

“You know, many people think that Scooter Libby was the victim of a special counsel gone amok,” Conway said.

Included in that crowd are close allies of the president, including his outside legal advisors Joe diGenova and his wife, Victoria Toensing.

The White House has repeatedly said that no pardons are currently on the table for political allies of the president who have faced legal jeopardy as a result of the Russia investigation.

President Trump poised to pardon Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, sources say