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U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald thought he was testifying before Congress last week on the Justice Department’s special counsel regulations. Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, had other ideas. She began, “Mr. Fitzgerald, do you believe that the president should consult with the special counsel when deciding whether to commute the sentence of an administration official who was the subject of the special counsel’s prosecution?” Fitzgerald replied, rather archly, that he hadn’t expected to testify on commutation issues. “All I can say is that I recognize the president has the power to pardon and commute, and I won’t go beyond that,” he said. When Sanchez asked whether the president had consulted with Fitzgerald before commuting I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s 30-month sentence, he said, “I wasn’t consulted in the decision. I was notified of it.” Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the full committee chairman, hadn’t had his fill of the Libby case, either. He wanted to know how much the leak investigation and Libby prosecution had cost the government. Fitzgerald put the bill at around $2.4 million: $300,000 on travel; $100,000 on court transcripts; and the rest on the government salaries of the prosecutors and investigators on the team. “Did we ever find out who leaked the name of a CIA agent?” Conyers asked as an afterthought. Fitzgerald, without expression, said the trial established that three officials had talked to reporters about Valerie Plame. “These name were publicly discussed,” he said.
Joe Palazzolo can be contacted at [email protected].

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