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When I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was disbarred by the D.C. Court of Appeals last week for his felony convictions in Plamegate, he may have been consoled by the company he now keeps, at least in the abstract. In Washington, lawyers-turned-disgraced politicos have a rich history. D.C Bar Counsel Wallace “Gene” Shipp Jr. reeled off some highlights last week. Richard Nixon was disbarred from New York in 1976. He resigned from the California state bar and the U.S. Supreme Court bar, but New York wouldn’t let him resign unless he admitted that, if not for his pardon, he couldn’t have beaten a charge of obstruction of justice in the Watergate probe. Watergate claimed the law licenses of at least three other Nixon administration officials, including John Mitchell, the only attorney general to be imprisoned. President Bill Clinton was disbarred by the Supreme Court in 2001 (the Court didn’t explain why, but you can guess), and the Arkansas state bar suspended his license for five years and fined him $25,000. Clinton’s former national security adviser, Samuel Richard “Sandy” Berger, consented to disbarment in the District last June, after pleading guilty to sneaking documents out of the National Archives. Elliott Abrams, a State Department official in the Reagan administration, pleaded guilty in 1991 to two misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress about the Unites States’ support of Nicaraguan Contras via Iran. The D.C. Court of Appeals publicly censured Abrams in 1997, but he kept his license. His list exhausted, Shipp says, “You just want to grab them by the lapels and shake them and say, �Would your mother be proud?’”
Joe Palazzolo can be contacted at [email protected].

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