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Fred Thompson calls for Libby pardon
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Wednesday June 6, 2007
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In an interview Tuesday on Fox's Hannity & Colmes, potential presidential candidate Fred Thompson launched into a passionate defense of Scooter Libby.

"It's tragic," said Thompson of Libby's conviction. "What they were looking at didn't constitute a crime. Valerie Plame ... wasn't a covered person under the statute. ... Scooter Libby didn't leak her name. ... The Justice Department never should have appointed a special counsel ... Scooter Libby was working himself to exhaustion trying to protect his country. ... They picked him out to bring the burden of this entire political witchhunt on him. ... The judge saw fit to go way beyond what his own probation officer recommended."

"Would you pardon him now," Thompson was asked. "I would, absolutely," he answered. "It's a gross injustice ... and it ought to be rectified."

The following video clip is from Fox's Hannity & Colmes, broadcast on June 5.


Transcript:

HANNITY: If it's clear that they're getting close to getting the weapon, would it be your policy to support preemption as a means of taking out or wiping out those facilities, considering they've, you know, repeatedly threatened to wipe Israel off the map?

THOMPSON: Yes. Yes.

HANNITY: It would be?

THOMPSON: Yes.

HANNITY: All right, let me ask you about this. You said about -- we had news today about Scooter Libby, 30-month prison sentence. You called it a shocking injustice. Why?

THOMPSON: Yes, well, it has been all along, for a long time. I've never seen a case where so many government offices, and officials, and entities fell down on the job, and helped perpetuate an injustice for their own ends. I mean, it's tragic. And it's below the radar screen with most people, except around here, but, you know, I've been a prosecutor and a defense lawyer, and I followed it closely. I didn't know Scooter, but I called him up when I saw what was happening. And I said, "I'll help you if you need help," a long time before I thought about presidential politics.

But you got a situation here where they knew shortly after they started this fiasco that no crime had been committed. What they were looking at didn't constitute a crime, because of the status of Valerie Plame. She wasn't a covered person under the statute. Then they found out that he didn't -- Scooter Libby didn't leak her name. Richard Armitage over at the State Department did that, but they still kept digging and digging, because the press expected the special prosecutor to come up with somebody in the Bush administration.

The Justice Department should never have appointed special counsel. They were taking criticism and heat from the press and Capitol Hill. And they had to do something, they felt like, so they caved, appointed a special counsel. And he spent a year and a half digging and digging, and he came up with a process crime allegation.

Scooter Libby was here looking at national security estimates, and working like two full-time jobs, and his doctor said, you know, working himself to exhaustion, trying to protect his country, and they found some inconsistent statements that he made, allegedly. So they put a case against him, and it was rife with inconsistent statements from the government witnesses.

HANNITY: Right.

THOMPSON: And yet they picked him out to bring the burden of this entire political witch hunt on him, this single individual, and prosecuted him. And now the judge saw fit to go way beyond what his own probation officer recommended was a suitable sentence.

HANNITY: Statutory guidelines, yes.

THOMPSON: Yes, yes, and it's just -- this sentencing is just the last...

HANNITY: I only have a second in this segment. If you were president, would you pardon him? And do you think the president would pardon him? And would you pardon him now?

THOMPSON: I would, absolutely.

HANNITY: Do you think the president should?

THOMPSON: It's a gross injustice perpetuated in large part by this CIA, and this Justice Department, and this special counsel, who they appointed, and it ought to be rectified.