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President Bush on Monday granted what could be a first round of pardons for a number of convicted criminals before he leaves office in January.
Bush granted 14 pardons and two commutations Monday. Speculation has swirled around whether the president will grant a full pardon to I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, after commuting his sentence in 2007 for committing perjury in the CIA leak investigation. In addition, Bush could grant some form of executive clemency to a number of Republican congressmen who have been convicted and jailed for corruption.
But no big Washington names were present in the batch of pardons released by the Justice Department on Monday. Instead, many small-time criminals benefited from Bush’s pardon power. Several drug dealers, a bank embezzler and even someone who violated the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act saw their criminal records wiped clean by the White House.
Additional high-profile figures have petitioned the Justice Department’s Office of the U.S. Pardon Attorney, such as media baron Conrad Black and “America Taliban” John Walker Lindh. Several lawmakers have also pushed for Bush to weigh in on behalf of Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos, two U.S. Border Patrol agents who have been sentenced to prison after shooting a Mexican drug smuggler during a routine border stop three years ago.
Bush has not been known to be generous with his power to wave away a criminal record, though. The president has now pardoned 171 individuals and commuted sentences for eight people, a relatively small number compared to past administrations.