Why is this man smiling?
I missed it when it came out. But it seems the groundwork is now being laid for pardoning Scooter Libby for his alleged crimes relating to the Plame case. How this usually works is a tasked quote-meister like GOP lawyer and uber-insider Joe DiGenova is sent out to give quote floating and legitimizing the idea, to normalize it and make it part of respectable debate.
So here we have him telling Newsday over the weekend that "I think ultimately, of course, there are going to be pardons" in the Libby case and that Patrick Fitzgerald's indictment of Libby "is the epitome of the criminalization of the political process."
Newsday identifies DiGenova as "a former prosecutor and an old Washington hand who shares that view with many pundits (emphasis added)."
DiGenova says he thinks the president will pardon Libby in January 2009. But other unnamed sources in the article tell Newsday that the president may feel it necessary to pardon Libby before he goes to trial because of how much adverse information could come out about him and I suspect, even more likely, about the vice president.
Needless to say, the White House declined to say whether or not the president plans to pardon Libby.
Presidents do sometimes pardon people who they believe have taken legal hits on their behalf. But this case would be of a different order since the president's pardon would be mainly to prevent a trial which would certainly lead to the airing of highly embarrassing and morally incriminating evidence about senior members of his administration, perhaps including himself.
Make no mistake, this is a trial balloon, an effort to test the waters and prepare the public for Libby's eventual pardon. And you should expect that the president will pardon Libby, perhaps as soon as six months from now, because signals of Libby's impending pardon will raise little concern or controversy in Washington or among name pundits.
Late Update: It was just pointed out to me that that Joe DiGenova first trotted this out back in April. Justin Rood flagged it at the time over at TPMm. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again, eh Joe?