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. Stuart B., Tokyo, Japan

    Well reasoned decision by a man who struggles with difficult issues on a daily basis. It appears to me that he deftly found a compromise which retains the conviction on Libby but removes the stain of prison time. As reflected in this blog, those who hold the President in disdain are unlikely to approve of any of his actions and in a bizarre kind of way, have liberated him.

    July 3, 2007 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  2. Paul Porter, Plymouth, MA

    The real culprit here is a Clinton appointee named Dick Armitage. Armitage was the 'leaker' and yet no democrat has publically asked for the prosecution of Armitage.

    Hypocrisy?

    July 3, 2007 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  3. Steve, Atlanta GA

    9 Democrats, 2 Republicans asked for comments. Enough said. The same thing happened when Clinton pardoned his cronies. It was ok with the Demcorats and it was not ok with the Republicans. Same song, different verse. At least Bush left the fine and probation. Clinton would have eliminated that.

    July 3, 2007 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  4. Sandra Des Moines, Iowa

    How long are the crimes of the Bush Administration going to go on? Until the next election? I pray that the world is going to wake up and see what's happening. Criminals are running our government. How does that justify the American way. Is there an American way? Or is this it. Today I am once again extremely ashamed to be an American. What an atrosity for this to happen during our week of celebrating freedom. Or is this what freedom means? Big Money, Big Business means you have no law? What Happened? I am afraid for my childs future in a country like the one we live in today.

    July 3, 2007 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  5. Joseph Cecil, Sacramento, CA

    The sentence was too long, BUT, it should have been CHENEY serving it for outing a CIA agent for political gain. Every enemy of the USA studied Valerie Wilson's cover, and now the whole CIA's methods are out in the light, no cover will be as safe in the future.
    I am SO VERY GLAD Bush pardoned Libby, now WE ALL KNOW THEY ARE CORRUPT. This is a good thing, a silver bullet to shoot any remnant of integrity and honor from the Bush presidency. They harmed the USA, and the whole world.

    Going into Iraq wasn't the biggest mistake, it was the arrogance and lack of caring which showed in the lack of nationbuilding, and lack of protection for US troops.
    Bush is not very intelligent, that is the USA's fault, we should NEVER ELECT A STUPID PRESIDENT AGAIN!.. only intelligent people for that job, got it? No more stupid ones.. please!!

    July 3, 2007 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  6. Ryan

    Bush has pardoned or commuted the sentence of working class people until now. There were no cries about him being unfair to the rich when these happened. The "equal justice" cries are without basis. I'm not a Bush fan, or a Republican for that matter, so this strikes me as politics and a one day story.

    July 3, 2007 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  7. Michael, Newport Beach

    Just another move in securing Bush's legacy as the worst President in our nation's history.

    July 3, 2007 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  8. Cory Acworth, GA

    "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind"~ Ghandi

    July 3, 2007 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  9. Edison, Edison, NJ

    Schumer, Edwards, and Biden (and SOME of the other Democrats) are correct. Equal justice....anyone else would have done hard time!!??? The best, opposing argument, is Thompson's comment, and we want that as President!

    July 3, 2007 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  10. Detroit, MI

    Are you kidding me!! What about the two boarder patrol officers? Those guys were actually doing their job. Somebody take the keys from Bush and ground him.

    July 3, 2007 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  11. MaryE

    WAKE UP, AMERICA! THE WORD IS IMPEACH. WRITE YOUR SENATOR'S AND REPRESENTIVE'S. NOW IS THE TIME; DO NOT LET IT GO ANY FARTHER. ABSURD ACTION BY THE PRESIDENT.

    July 3, 2007 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  12. John Ellis, New York

    This is country club government at it's finest. Bush has recreated a feudal government with the majority of us as the serfs, who should be happy we are allowed on the property at all. He's not only the worst president in US history (which takes some doing), he is the worst leader of a democracy in world history I know of (yes, Hitler was elected but then suspended the democracy, beginning the descent). He's King Midas in reverse – he destroys everything he touches. He should be impeached, convicted, and deported – if any Latin American country would take him. How about Bulgaria?

    July 3, 2007 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  13. Mike, Detroit, Michigan

    What an UNbelievable mess this country has been dragged into. So, let me get this straight, Clinton tells one lie and is impeached, Martha tells a lie and goes to jail. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS COUNTRY that this administration can NOT TELL THE TRUTH and no one does a thing to stop it?!

    July 3, 2007 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  14. M. konners

    OUTRAGEOUS-Bush promotes Democracy but behaves like a dictator. IMPEACH Cheney, then BUSH, and finally get this country back to being the Best and most loved and respected. I have had ENOUGH...........

    July 3, 2007 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  15. Linda, Houston Texas

    The most insidious of traitors, gets off. Bush is a shameful excuse for a man. November 08 can't get here fast enough.

    July 3, 2007 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  16. Bill W, Coatesville PA

    If the Democrats let this go unanswered, they are cowards and will be losing votes and their temporary popularity. And whether the Republicans liek it or not, this is their party doing this. The Republicans are so unpopular right now that if they let this go unanswered, not one Republican may be elected to office in 2008. Both parties seriously need to take Bush to task for this.

    July 3, 2007 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  17. Greg Gosian, Rochester, NY

    I believe that Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani, by supporting the president's decision to pardon Mr. Libby, are clearly out of touch with the expectations of this country to see a minimal accountability for a conviction of obstruction of justice. You can be certain that if Scooter were a Democrat or an ordinary citizen, he'd have already been behind bars.
    If America could see someone else serving his sentence- perhaps Mr. Cheney, we'd feel like justice were served; Scooter didn't lie without being told to by someone.

    As Ross Perot summed it up-
    these people are civil servants and they're acting like royalty.

    July 3, 2007 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  18. Daniel Kibler, Centerville, Ohio

    It comes as no surprise that the President has commuted 'Scooter's' sentence. This administration has lost all of it's integrity with not only the citizens of our country, but all of the peoples of the World a long time ago. It will take years to repair the chasm that they've created internally and externally throughout the World. We should all be thankful that all of this will end soon, so we can begin the healing process.

    July 3, 2007 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  19. Pam, Plymouth Meeting, PA

    History is repeating itself. Reacquaint yourself with the Rise and Fall of the 3rd Reich as well as Hitler's Mein Camp. Bush's administration is guilty of fostering the birth of facism in America. The Bush administration believes it rules by divine right; i.e., it can make and break laws as it so pleases–the arrogance of Cheyney and the commutation of his primary lawbreaker, Libby. And, these are the same people who wanted Clinton impeached for lying about a personal assignation. As a black American female, I am appalled at the gall of the Bush administration. His administration embraces lies, rewards liars, and has no problem placing US citizens in harm's way for the profits of their cronies. And, it is not by accident that history is now taught as an overview, with no real substance. Due to limited education, it is likely that the US generation that is less than 20 years old does not know what facism is and will lobby against it. With freedom comes responsibility. Throw the money changers out of Washington, DC and we might move from oligarchy to a true democracy. Then, maybe the 3rd World will want to emulate us–we would not have to use guns against them!

    July 3, 2007 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  20. Dan, Canton, MI

    What I think is interesting is that many of the senators that provided CNN responses are still trying to say Scooter Libby leaked Valerie Wilson's involvement in the CIA to the media, when it has been repeatedly admitted to by Richard Armitage. CNN has reported on this fact repeatedly.

    The real problem is that the special prosecutor never went after the Richard Armitage for leaking the classified information and that he failed to produce any respectable results. Yes, he got a conviction, but they were perjury charges against an aide. He pathetically failed to adequately do his job.

    Personally, I think President Bush was right in commuting Libby's sentence and on some levels I feel sorry for Scooter Libby. He became the "crowning jewel" for the special prosecutor's investigation, which was a complete failure. If Fitzgerald was able to charge Richard Armitage with leaking the information, I don't believe Libby ever would have faced this situation. It's my hope that President Bush has weighed this reality and that was his basis for commuting Libby's sentence, because it would be mine.

    July 3, 2007 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  21. Chris

    Come on, is anyone really suprised here? This corrupt administration cannot do anything else that would really suprise me. At least we only have 18 more months of this "president".

    July 3, 2007 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  22. Deana, Atlanta GA

    It's time our representatives in the legislative branch call for full blown investigations of Bush and Cheyney. IMPEACHMENT is in order! And, it's time the American people get off their lazy, self-centered behinds and vote out EVERY incumbent in the next 3 elections. We the people need to do this to send the message to career politicians and lobbyists that this is OUR government and not their money's government!

    July 3, 2007 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  23. Barbara N., China Grove, NC

    Historians, I predict, will not be kind to Baby Bush. I hope he is prepared to be grouped with some of our worst presidents and there have been many throughout our history. Warren G. Harding comes to mind. As smug as he is, I suspect that even he cares about his legacy. It has always bothered me that he says that he consults with a "higher father." That is a dangerous claim to make. He may not be talking to who he thinks he is.

    July 3, 2007 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  24. Dalen Bressack

    If Bush had no intention of Libby ever going to jail, then why didn't he say so in the beginning and that would have saved the tax payers a lot of money that was wasted on this case!

    July 3, 2007 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  25. Sandi Saunders, Hardy VA

    At least now we know what the meaning of is, is. What goes around comes around, only they don't like it when the shoe is on the other foot, then it is suddenly a bad prosecution and an unjust conviction.

    July 3, 2007 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
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