Conyers to Cheney: Butt out

Members of Congress warn the vice president to steer clear of Libby pardon deliberations.

By Tim Grieve

Published June 7, 2007 9:07PM (EDT)

In a letter sent today, House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers and Constitution, civil rights, and civil liberties subcommittee chairman Jerrold Nadler "strongly urge" Vice President Dick Cheney to recuse himself from any discussions of a pardon for Scooter Libby.

Conyers and Nadler say Cheney's comments about Libby's sentence -- he said this week that he hopes "our system" will "return a final result consistent with what we know of this fine man" -- suggest that he's blurring the line between his professional duties and his personal interests, especially in light of the fact that the investigation Libby obstructed involved the actions of the vice president himself.

"As the federal prosecutor stated in his closing arguments, the evidence at trial revealed that there was 'a cloud' over certain aspects of your conduct," Conyers and Nadler write.

The congressmen tell Cheney that it would be "deeply divisive, and invite deep cynicism and disrespect for the legal process," if Americans were to conclude that Libby "undertook actions that subjected him to criminal liability to protect you, knowing or believing, or having the facts ultimately reveal, that you would thereafter take steps to protect him from the consequences of his criminal conduct."

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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