Libby drops appeal

With the president having commuted his sentence, there was little reason to press on.

Published December 10, 2007 4:53PM (EST)

Remember when Scooter Libby had such persuasive grounds for appealing his conviction in the Valerie Plame case that his lawyers said he shouldn't have to go to prison in the meantime?

Never mind.

George W. Bush commuted Libby's sentence in July, and now Libby's lawyers say that he's decided to drop his appeal. "We remain firmly convinced of Mr. Libby's innocence," Libby lawyer Ted Wells says in a statement. "However, the realities were that, after five years of government service by Mr. Libby and several years of defending against this case, the burden on Mr. Libby and his young family of continuing to pursue his complete vindication are too great to ask them to bear."

Translation: With no prison sentence hanging over him, the cost of being a convicted felon doesn't warrant the attorneys' fees that would be spent on a long-shot appeal. And, of course, with the prospect of a full presidential pardon still looming out there, there's reason for Libby to hope that he'll be done with this whole perjury-and-obstruction-of-justice thing by next January anyway without spending another penny on lawyers.

The question now on the floor: With any pretense of an ongoing legal proceeding now out of the way, will the Bush administration finally come clean about Plamegate?

The answer: We think we know it already.

Update: From today's White House press briefing:

Reporter: Scooter Libby dropped his appeal in the CIA leak case. How will that affect whether the president issues a pardon for him?

Dana Perino: We never comment on whether or not the president will be granting or not granting pardons to anybody. So I'm not able to comment.

Reporter: It's still an open question?

Perino: Well, you know, if he chooses to pursue a pardon, there is that route. And, of course, the Constitution provides the president the powers of the pardon. And we just cannot speculate, as we don't on any possible pardons.

Reporter: OK. Well, now that . . . there is no longer any appeal, can you speak to what the president thinks about Scooter Libby disclosing the name of a CIA official?

Perino: Well, I did not have a chance to talk -- chance to speak to the president after this announcement was made this morning, and so I don't have his immediate reaction. He gave a lengthy statement in July in regards to the commutation, and so I'll have to refer you to that for now.

Reporter: He didn't talk about what Scooter Libby had actually done. . .

Perino: And as I said, I haven't spoken to the president about it, so I'm not able to provide you anything else at this moment.

Reporter: Is he expected to do pardons during the Christmas break?

Perino: I have to give the same answer, which is we just don't speculate on any possible pardons.

By Tim Grieve

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

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