Citing "overwhelming" evidence that Scooter Libby violated the law and breached the trust given high public officials, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton has just sentenced the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney to 30 months in prison for committing perjury, obstructing justice and making false statements in the course of the Valerie Plame investigation.
Walton also ordered Libby to pay a fine of $250,000.
Walton's sentence fell short of the 37 months that would have applied if the judge had accepted all of the sentencing arguments advanced by Patrick Fitzgerald, but it far exceeded the sentence -- probation only -- that Libby's lawyers were advocating.
Libby's legal team will appeal his conviction. If Libby remains free during the course of that appeal, George W. Bush may be able to avoid the question of a pardon until at least next year. If not, Libby will have to report to the federal prison to which he's assigned within the next several weeks, and the president will have a decision to make then.
Update: Walton is going to allow Fitzgerald and Libby's defense team to file briefs on the question whether Libby should be released on bail pending his appeal. Walton set a hearing on the matter for next Thursday.