WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court refused Monday to delay the imprisonment of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the CIA leak case.
The court denied a motion by the defense team that Libby be allowed to remain free pending appeal. The former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney had been sentenced to 30 months in prison after being found guilty of blocking an investigation into the leak of CIA employee Valerie Plame's identity.
However, neither Libby nor anyone else in the Bush administration has been charged with revealing the identity of an undercover agent, and Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has said he concluded his investigation into the matter.
In a brief two-paragraph order, the three-judge panel on the court wrote that Libby's team has not shown that his appeal raises the "substantial question" that Libby's case could be decided the other way.
The appeals court judges assigned to adjudicate the motion were David B. Sentelle, Karen Lecraft Henderson, both Republican appointees, and David S. Tatel, a Clinton appointee.
With the motion denied, Libby is one step closer to surrendering to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, though he has not yet been assigned a location or deadline for surrender.
Libby's attorneys did not immediately return messages seeking comment. Libby's supporters, who raised millions of dollars for his defense fund, immediately renewed a call for a pardon.
"I hope it puts pressure on the president. He's a man of pronounced loyalties and he should have loyalty to Scooter Libby," said former Ambassador Richard Carlson, a member of Libby's defense fund. "It would be a travesty for him to go off to prison. The president will take some heat for it. So what? He takes heat for everything."
FOX News' Ian McCaleb and The Associated Press contributed to this report.