A speech for the Libby pardon

The following is a speech that should be delivered by the President of the United States from the Oval Office and televised live to the nation at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on a weeknight as soon as possible:

Fellow citizens: I have asked for a few minutes of your time in order to discuss a recent trial involving a former member of the White House staff and to make an announcement regarding the verdict of that trial.

Mr. I. Lewis Libby was recently convicted in federal court on counts of obstruction of justice, perjury, and making false statements. After an extensive review of Mr. Libby's case, in addition to consulting with White House counsel and the Attorney General, I have concluded that Mr. Libby's conviction was not only legally invalid, it sets a dangerous precedent.

As has been widely publicized, it was alleged that members of the White House staff publicly identified the name of a federal agent who met the legislative standards set forth to qualify as an undercover agent. It was alleged that, in response to criticism of this administration by that agent's spouse, this White House purposefully and petulantly compromised this agent's identity and deliberately placed her in danger. After three years of investigations and a trial, there is no doubt that these allegations were false.

The special prosecutor in this case enjoyed generous latitude and the full cooperation of my White House staff in his investigation. However, the special prosecutor has known for quite some time that the public utterance of the name of the federal agent in question was not a crime. In addition, the first mention of that agent's name in public was not by a member of my White House staff. The special prosecutor's charge was to determine if the identity of the federal agent in question was classified information and, if so, to prosecute and convict the person or persons who broke the nondisclosure law protecting undercover agents. Mr. Libby was convicted because he did not remember exactly when he first heard the name of a federal agent, and because his memory was not exactly the same of other witnesses, whose memories also proved inconsistent.

Mr. Libby should have never faced trial. Many times during the course of his investigations and, indeed, in the closing arguments of Mr. Libby's trial, the special prosecutor overstepped his charge and engaged in wildly false speculation regarding the conduct of this White House toward political opponents. On the specific assignment he was given, the special prosecutor found nothing. Rather than acting properly, he chose to punish a member of this White House simply because he personally believed a member of this White House should be punished. Consequently, a good man's name has been stained unnecessarily.

The criminalization of political ideology or affiliation is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by this White House.

Mr. Libby has served this nation honorably. Mr. Libby is guilty of nothing and fully deserves a full presidential pardon, which, according to the Constitutional authority afforded this office, is hereby granted.

Thank you for your attention. May God bless you.
Matthew May welcomes comments.