A leading House Democrat said he believes President Donald Trump chose to pardon Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who served in the George W. Bush administration, to send a message to people who may be implicated in the Russia investigation.
“The president is sending a message, basically, ‘I will use the pardon power to pardon people even that have been convicted of leaking or obstruction of justice. If you're with me I have your back,'” Rep. Adam Schiff of California told ABC Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" Sunday.”
Libby, who served as chief of staff under Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted in 2007 of obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI.
After Trump's pardon of Libby was announced Friday, Schiff tweeted, “This is the President’s way of sending a message to those implicated in the Russia investigation: You have my back and I‘ll have yours.”
The president said in a statement Friday, “I don’t know Mr. Libby ... But for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly."
President Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway on Friday disputed the notion that the White House was trying to send a message by pardoning Libby. She said, “Many people think that Scooter Libby was the victim of a special counsel gone amok.”
Schiff said on "This Week" that it is far-fetched to believe the president chose at random to pardon Libby at this time.
“You'd have to believe the president picked Scooter Libby out of a hat; out of the thousands of people seeking a pardon this was a complete coincidence,” Schiff said. “I don't find that the least bit credible.”
When Stephanopoulos asked White House press secretary Sarah Sanders about Schiff's tweet about the pardon during her appearance on "This Week," she dismissed it as not based in reality.
Schiff's assertion that Trump was sending a message through the pardon "couldn’t be further from the truth," Sanders said. "The point that the president made when it came to Scooter Libby, this was somebody who had been wrongly convicted ... and the president felt [the pardon] was the right thing to do."
The pardon of Libby and the Russia investigation "have nothing to do with one another."