July 2nd, 2007
06:57 PM ET
4 years ago

Libby commutation: Washington responds

Washington was quick to react to the Libby commutation Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Following are reactions to President Bush's announcement Monday that he has commuted the sentence of former vice presidential chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby:

Melanie Sloan, legal counsel to Joe and Valerie Wilson
"First, President Bush said any person who leaked would no longer work in his administration. Nonetheless, Scooter Libby didn't leave office until he was indicted and Karl Rove works in the White House even today. More recently, the vice president ignored an executive order protecting classified information, claiming he isn't really part of the executive branch. Clearly, this is anadministration that believes leaking classified information for political ends is justified and that the law is what applies to other people."

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, and presidential candidate
"This decision to commute the sentence of a man who compromised our national security cements the legacy of an Administration characterized by a politics of cynicism and division, one that has consistently placed itself and its ideology above the law. This is exactly the kind of politics we must change so we can begin restoring the American people's faith in a government that puts the country's progress ahead of the bitter partisanship of recent years."

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York
"As Independence Day nears, we are reminded that one of the principles our forefathers fought for was equal justice under the law. This commutation completely tramples on that principle."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada
"The President's decision to commute Mr. Libby's sentence is disgraceful. Libby's conviction was the one faint glimmer of accountability for White House efforts to manipulate intelligence and silence critics of the Iraq War. Now, even that small bit of justice has been undone. Judge Walton correctly determined that Libby deserved to be imprisoned for lying about a matter ofnational security. The Constitution gives President Bush the power to commute sentences, but history will judge him harshly for using that power to benefit his own Vice President's Chief of Staff who was convicted of such a serious violation of law."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California
"The President's commutation of Scooter Libby's prison sentence does not serve justice, condones criminal conduct, and is a betrayal of trust of the American people. The President said he would hold accountable anyone involved in the Valerie Plame leak case. By his action today, the President shows his word is not to be believed. He has abandoned all sense of fairness when it comes to justice, he has failed to uphold the rule of law, and he has failed to hold his Administration accountable."

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, presidential candidate
"Last week Vice President Cheney asserted that he was beyond the reach of the law. Today, President Bush demonstrated the lengths he would go to, ensuring that even aides to Dick Cheney are beyond the judgment of the law. It is time for the American people to be heard - I call for all Americans to flood the White House with phone calls tomorrow expressing their outrage over this blatant disregard for the rule of law."

Former Sen. John Edwards, presidential candidate
"Only a president clinically incapable of understanding that mistakes have consequences could take the action he did today. President Bush has just sent exactly the wrong signal to the country and the world. In George Bush's America, it is apparently okay to misuse intelligence for political gain, mislead prosecutors and lie to the FBI. George Bush and his cronies think they are above the law and the rest of us live with the consequences. The cause of equal justice in America took a serious blow today."

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, presidential candidate
"It's a sad day when the President commutes the sentence of a public official who deliberately and blatantly betrayed the public trust and obstructed an important federal investigation," said Governor Richardson. "This administration clearly believes its officials are above the law, from ignoring FISA laws when eavesdropping on US citizens, to the abuse of classified material, to ignoring the Geneva Conventions and international law with secret prisons and torturing prisoners.

There is a reason we have laws and why we expect our Presidents to obey them. Institutions have a collective wisdom greater than that of any one individual. The arrogance of this administration's disdain for the law and its belief it operates with impunity are breathtaking.

Will the President also commute the sentences of others who obstructed justice and lied to grand juries, or only those who act to protect President Bush and Vice President Cheney?"

Former GOP Sen. Fred Thompson, likely presidential candidate
I am very happy for Scooter Libby. I know that this is a great relief to him, his wife and children. While for a long time I have urged a pardon for Scooter, I respect the President's decision. This will allow a good American, who has done a lot for his country, to resume his life.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, presidential candidate
“Today's decision is yet another example that this Administration simply considers itself above the law. This case arose from the Administration's politicization of national security intelligence and its efforts to punish those who spoke out against its policies. Four years into the Iraq war, Americans are still living with the consequences of this White House's efforts to quell dissent. This commutation sends the clear signal that in this Administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice.”

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, presidential candidate
"After evaluating the facts, the President came to a reasonable decision and I believe the decision was correct."


Filed under: Scooter Libby
soundoff (1,240 Responses)
  1. Bruce, Seattle Wa

    Enough is enough already. The Bush administration has demonstrated time and time again that it does not respect the United States of America. The backbone of this country is our Constitution and the laws that stem from it. As everyone knows, "actions speak louder than words". The Bush administration is saying loud and clear that it doesn't respect OUR laws, and thus doesn't respect OUR country. Now why would any American (rep or dem) want someone who doesn't respect (maybe he just doesn't know them) or represent our countries beliefs as our President? Other countries dislike the U.S., because they don't understand why the American people cannot see what is so transparent...that the entire Bush administration has been corrupted, compromised, completely incompetent. Many politicians don't believe that impeachment is the answer, but is leaving an incompetent fool in most publicly powerful position in the world a good idea? Then you also need to ask yourself who the bigger fool is, the current president or the 300 million Americans and politician that are afraid to say enough is enough and allow him to sit in office another day.

    I M P E A C H B U S H I M P E A C H B U S H

    July 2, 2007 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  2. kirk

    its about time???
    he was a scapegoat and you all know it.
    good job mr president for putting and end to this.

    July 2, 2007 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  3. MCD, San Francisco, CA

    Disgraceful!!! He broke the law & by doing so put a stop to an extremely important investigation. This proves, beyond a doubt, that our president is a liar.

    July 2, 2007 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  4. Charles, Atlanta, Georgia

    I love this country, where else can one who has enough money to have you killed and probably has already done that too, be sentenced to a little over two years and have his sentenced commuted. Yet someone who case is sketchy and can't afford legitimate legal counsel cannot get a second trial until after he has already served a life sentence. Well at least he wasn't black, then this would be a shock.....Justice or Just us...

    July 2, 2007 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  5. Ed Guedes, Miami Beach, Florida

    Just when you think that nothing this president does will surprise you, he manages to take it up another level. There is nowhere for him to hide with respect to this decision to commute Scooter Libby's sentence. Setting aside for the moment that the President enjoys the executive power to pardon anyone, its exercise still constitutes a matter of sound judgment. The vast majority of presidents have either waited until just before leaving office to exercise the power or have exercised it when it has been necessary to heal national wounds (as was the case with President Ford's pardon of Nixon). This one has chosen to flaunt his authority. Scooter Libby was found by a jury of his peers to be a criminal. He was sentenced by a conservative judge. And yet, the judicial system apparently only has significance when it suits this president's administration. This president has repeatedly demonstrated in the past and once again by this action confirms that he lacks the shame and humility God affords the common man to recognize when he offends common decency. If there has ever been a president intent upon proving the truth of Lord Acton's aphorism, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely," it is this one. One can only imagine how bold he may become in his dwindling days of authority. God help us all.

    July 2, 2007 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  6. Michael Platt, Pleasanton, CA

    What does it take to even make it appear that the rich, powerful, and connected live under the same laws as the rest of us?

    But after the Paris Hilton prison debacle, the American people may not just let this slip by. Here's hoping we pitch a fit over letting Paris – er, LIBBY off without jail time.

    July 2, 2007 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  7. H. Dubinski Greenwood Village, Colorado

    Libby would not have been sentenced to prison if it weren't for the mandatory sentencing guidelines that law and order Republicans have been legislating for years. Will this mockery of justice carried out by the most incompetent and dishonest President of all time force Congress to re-examine those laws?

    July 2, 2007 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  8. Greg A. Boulder City, Nv.

    The decision to commute the sentence of Scooter Libby makes a sham of the judicial process.
    The actions of President Bush and Vice-President Cheney show their disregard for the democratic process,hinder the development of legitimate political discourse, and exposes the United States to international ridicule.

    July 2, 2007 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  9. Shawn Jones, Atlanta, GA

    You moron liberals. The president did not violate any laws. Moreover, the president did not commit any "crime or misdemeanor" by doing so (learn how to spell Jean). He exercised his authority under Article II of the Constitution. You remember, the Constitution? The pardon power in Article II exists for exactly the purpose he used it for here, to "check" an abuse of the judiciary in failing to follow the sentencing recommendations provided to the judge.

    Where were you people when Clinton PARDONED Mark Rich? He was a real criminal that fled from the United States. You people certaintly were not criticizing that as an "abuse of power."

    July 2, 2007 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  10. Tom , Haverhill Ma

    Hopefully, the majority of Americans will finally wake up and see that this administration is the worst in our history. We have a bunch of liars–and this President rewards that behavior. We have an administration that condones torture-which puts a huge bulls-eye on our brave troops. We have an administration that continues to "spy" on Americans. I watched the Watergate scenario in the 1970s–this administration is much worse. The only way to get change is to vote out every Republican that backs this administration. I do not care if a Democrat, Republican or independent is voted in. The only way to change is get every Republican on record now–if they back Co-presidents Bush, Cheney and Rove–then they should voted out in their next election.

    July 2, 2007 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    At this point, almost nothing suprises me. This administration continues to thumb its nose at the principles this country was founded on. All the while wriapping itself in the flag and decrying those who object as treasonous.

    July 2, 2007 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  12. connie gotch

    when the hell is one of the members of congress gets the guts to initiate impeachment against this good for nothing bastard?

    When he is in a bunker and we are nuclear fodder?

    July 2, 2007 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  13. piltdownman

    Note to President Bush; You've done enough damage, can we please have our country back now?

    July 2, 2007 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  14. Robert Hulse, Wexford, PA

    Why is anyone surprised at this? Soon-to-be-ex-president Bush has consistently demonstrated a warped and ignorant value system and management style. This is just one more in a loooonnnggg line of decisions (Cheney-driven??) that cause people (Republican and Democrat) to shake their heads in wonder.

    Having said that, I agree somewhat with Bob that neither party demonstrates exemplary ethical or moral character – it just so happens that this time the Republicans got caught.

    Politics is corrupt in this country – but that isn't the problem. The problem is that we (as voters and citizens) tolerate it...

    Maybe we shouldn't point our fingers so firmly at China..

    July 2, 2007 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  15. Michelle F, Charlotte, North Carolina

    Where are the Republican comments to this perversion of justice? I'm surprised Bush didn't commute Paris Hilton's sentence for being too excessive.

    July 2, 2007 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  16. Bob, San Francisco, CA

    Unbelievable!!! Wait...actually, believable.

    There's no justice anymore and I've almost completely lost faith in this country. July 4th is coming up and it's a sad time to be an American.

    And don't give me any of your right wing "love it or leave it" crap because I do love my country and I hate what has become of it.

    July 2, 2007 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  17. Buck, Asheboro, NC

    Disgusting. Please contact your elected representatives and demand impeachment now.

    July 2, 2007 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  18. Sheldon Green, Cleveland, Ohio

    This absolutely assured the fact that I will NEVER vote for a Republican for ANY office ever again. I'd rather not vote than support this kind of behavior–first by Gerald Ford, and now by George W. Bush.

    July 2, 2007 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  19. Ron Maynard, Loveland CO

    I guess CNN isn't fair and balanced. This link was supposed to be political reaction, not Democratic Party reaction. The Washington Post and other websites made a point of stating that the $250K fine and probation remain in force. The best you can do is to say the "skated". Way to be not "fair and balanced".

    July 2, 2007 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  20. Wm Stiehm/ Adirondack, ny

    We democrats might protest but what could be better grist for the campaign '08 mill? Go ahead, GWB, make it even easier for the democrats.

    July 2, 2007 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  21. John Futrell, New Orleans, Louisiana

    Bush is a hypocrite. As president, he can find time to commute the sentence of the Vice-President's fall guy. But as governor of Texas, he can't find time to commute the sentence of a death row inmate who believes in Santa Clause.

    July 2, 2007 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  22. Madeline, Redlands, California

    What a surprise – NOT! Whether "Scooter" Libby perjured himself, lied to investigators, and obstructed justice is absolutely irrelevant for the only way to understand Libby's actions (as the President obviously did) is through the TBL (Total Bushite Loyalty) Test which measures to what degree someone has committed (sold) his/her soul to the Cheney-Bush administration. The rest is nonsense, including the findings of the special prosecutor, the court of law that tried him, the jury that gave Mr. Libby his guilty verdict, and the federal appeals court that unanimously denied Mr. “Federal Inmate No. 28301-016” his appeal to stay out of jail.

    Next, maybe the President or the Vice-President (since both seem to be above ANY law in this country) could move to repeal the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, or better yet, why not declare the whole document moot since what is the Constitution but a piece of paper of little value (except for the very important 2nd Amendment) in the eyes of this administration?

    July 2, 2007 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  23. Frank Lestar

    This is really a constutional crisis. I believe, democracy here is just a buzzword for this administration. Democracy means that the majority rules, but this administration in power regardless how the majority of country opposes its actions. In our constitution there is no possibility to recall a president with a simple congressional vote.

    July 2, 2007 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  24. Nadine M...Wilmington DE

    Just when you think Bush could not stoop any lower, He does this discraceful act..
    This administration makes me sick..And soldiers are dying for this man?
    America, is no longer

    July 2, 2007 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  25. Kaye Joshim, Salt Lake City, Utah

    Give me a break.

    Don't you Democrats remember the pardons that Bill Clinton gave out at the end of his final term? I didn’t see Pelosi and Reid crying foul then. It's business as usual, only this time it's a Republican president. Save the asymmetrical sanctimonious indignation. Hypocrisy does not become you.

    Notably absent is a statement form Hillary. Hum, I wonder why.

    July 2, 2007 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
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