I Beg Your Pardon (From The Rose Garden)

(CBS)
Mark Knoller is a White House Correspondent for CBS News.
Like any other American, Scooter Libby can apply for a presidential pardon.

But when asked if President Bush would be receptive to such a request, spokeswoman Dana Perino said she wouldn't speculate on what she termed "a wildly hypothetical situation."

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid is calling on Mr. Bush to "pledge not to pardon Libby for his criminal conduct."

At his last news conference, the President was asked about a pardon for Libby and quickly shut down the reporter before he could finish the question.

"Not going to talk about it," insisted Mr. Bush.

In fact, the White House has alread served notice that it won't be commenting further on matters related to the Libby case because the legal proceedings are not yet over. Libby's lawyers intend to ask for a new trial, and if denied, appeal the jury's verdict in the one that just ended.

It's worth noting that when it comes to pardons, President Bush has shown himself to be pretty stingy.

During six years in office, he's granted only 113 of them – and none to political figures. Compare that to the number of pardons granted by some of Mr. Bush's predecessors during their terms in office.

Clinton - Bill Clinton - 396
George H.W. Bush - 74
Ronald Reagan - 393
Jimmy Carter - 534
Gerald Ford - 382
Richard Nixon - 863
Lyndon Johnson - 960
Recipients of pardons from the current President have included people convicted of non-violent crimes such as mail fraud, embezzlement, drug dealing and moonshining.

But it's worth remembering that less than a month before the first President Bush left office, he granted political pardons to former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and five other former officials caught up in the Iran-Contra scandal.

So a pardon for Libby would hardly be unprecedented.
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    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.

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