Bharara: Would be 'kind of abusive' if Trump pardoned Libby for political message

Bharara: Libby pardon a political message
Bharara: Libby pardon a political message

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Bharara: Libby pardon a political message 01:08

(CNN)Speculation surrounding President Donald Trump's motive to pardon Scooter Libby this week continues, as the special counsel probe could put some of Trump's allies in the hot seat.

But if Trump did pardon Libby to send a political message, former US attorney Preet Bharara said Sunday that he thought that would be "kind of abusive."
"It's true that the pardon power is something that the President can exercise in any way shape or form pretty much he wants," Bharara said on CNN's "State of the Union." "But it's kind of abusive, I think, if you're using it to send a political message to people who may be in a position to testify against you."
Libby, who was chief of staff to then-Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted of perjury in 2007 in the investigation into the leaked identity of former CIA officer Valerie Plame.
    Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald led the case that led to Libby's conviction. Fitzgerald was tapped by then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey, and the news of Libby's pardon came hours after excerpts from Comey's new memoir leaked, in which the ex-FBI director is highly critical of the President.
    Trump himself has found his presidency embroiled in its own special counsel investigation as former FBI Director Robert Mueller continues to look into Moscow's meddling in the 2016 election and possible ties between Russia and Trump campaign associates. Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion.
    Bharara said that there a lot of other people who might have deserved a presidential pardon.
    "Given how many thousands of people are out there -- and my office used to process these requests on a regular basis -- how many thousands of people are out there who may have been prosecuted in a way that was over aggressive, where charges were piled on, who want to get on with their lives in a way that maybe the President can help by issuing a pardon -- none of those people have gotten a pardon," he said.
    "But this person who the President doesn't know, who allows him to make a political statement and also to send a message as you suggest to people who are currently in the hot seat with respect to the Mueller investigation, I find it very difficult to come to any other conclusion than he's sending a message," he continued.