Sunday, March 23, 2008

Cheney Ex-Aide Scooter Libby Disbarred

Cheney Ex-Aide Scooter Libby Disbarred

By Carol D. Leonnig

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Vice president's former chief of staff convicted of lying to investigators in Plame case.

Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was disbarred today by a District of Columbia court that ruled that his convictions last year for perjury and obstructing justice in a White House leak investigation disqualify him from practicing law.

Under the ruling by the D.C. Court of Appeals, Libby will lose his license to practice or appear in court in Washington until at least 2012. As is standard custom, he also would lose any bar membership he might hold in any other states.

Libby was convicted of lying to the FBI and federal investigators about whether he discussed the identity of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame with reporters in the spring and summer of 2003. At the time, according to evidence presented at trial, Cheney had instructed Libby to talk to reporters to rebut claims made by Plame's husband that the administration had twisted intelligence to justify going to war with Iraq.

A three-member panel of the Court of Appeals decided that the D.C. Code gave it no choice on the decision. Libby has not disputed the D.C. Bar Counsel's recommendation that he be disbarred.

"When a member of the Bar is convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude, disbarment is mandatory," the judges wrote. "This court has held that obstruction of justice and perjury are crimes of moral turpitude per se."

Libby's disbarment is effective as of June 12, 2007, when he first filed a declaration saying he would voluntarily comply with the court's rules on professional ethics for lawyers. Libby, 57, could seek reinstatement to the bar five years from that date, in June 2012.

Last July, a federal judge sentenced Libby to 30 months in jail. President Bush commuted the sentence, calling it "excessive."

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