I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the former top aide to vice president Dick Cheney who was convicted of lying about his role in the leak of a CIA operative’s identity, has been cleared to practice law again.
The D.C. Court of Appeals, the city’s highest court, found the former national security adviser “fit to resume the practice of law” in response to Libby’s petition that asserts his innocence.
Libby lost his law license in 2008, following his conviction for perjury and obstruction of the federal investigation into disclosures to journalists about the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson.
Several Bush administration officials later acknowledged discussing Wilson with reporters, but Libby was the only official to face criminal charges.
President George W. Bush commuted his 30-month prison sentence, leaving Libby to face a fine and two years’ probation. Cheney and other conservatives urged Bush to go further in granting a full pardon to the once-prominent Washington lawyer.
In Libby’s 14-page petition to the court’s Board on Professional Responsibility, Libby agrees that the charges for which he was convicted are “serious offenses that undermine our system of justice.”
But Libby, 66, “maintains that he was innocent of those offenses,” according to his attorney, William Jeffress Jr.
Libby, a national security expert, is senior vice president at the Hudson Institute. Jeffress said he is not aware of any immediate plans Libby has to practice law.
“He wants to be free to practice law as he did all his life,” Jeffress said.
Libby told the FBI “his honest recollection of events,” Jeffress said, but it was easy for Libby and other witnesses to confuse details and impressions of conversations when questioned months later in the “politically-charged case.”
In its report to the court, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel did not oppose Libby’s reinstatement and noted that he presented “credible evidence” that one of the key prosecution witnesses, former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, appeared to have changed her recollection of events.
Libby’s petition included letters of support from former solicitor general Ted Olson; Joseph DiGenova, former U.S. attorney for the District; and Judge Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.