July 2nd, 2007
06:57 PM ET
3 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. WE THE PEOPLE

    IMPEACH BU$H CO NOW!

    July 3, 2007 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  2. Vargold vonWerther

    Just as Daddy Bush pardoned Cap Weinberger in Iran-Contra as the scandal threatened to implicate him, so Bush Jr. has now commuted Libby's sentence, which–unlike a pardon–means Libby retains his 5th Amendment privilege and will thus protect Bush and Cheney. What more do the Democrats need before they realize impeachment is the only solution for officials who believe they are above the law?

    July 3, 2007 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  3. Donna, Buffalo N.Y.

    The repulsion Americans feel towards this act by President Bush should continue beyond this blog. But the key word in that sentence is "should".
    When the Democrats were voted in, the American people wanted a change. A change in policy, a change in ideology and a change in foreign diplomacy. And in return for our votes in November, we were betrayed by democratic party, i.e. Iraq War funding bill and an allowed continuation of "cowboy-dictator politics".
    In addition, Executive Priviledge has become an appendage to the elastic clause and need I mention Mike Brown, Harriet Miers, "Mission Accomplished", faith based funding, gross tax cuts, failure of the health care and medicare systems, a historic trade deficit, and the continuing divide between social classes?

    My point? If the members of Congress-that WE THE PEOPLE placed in office can't or won't do a damned thing to change this country, how can we? Defeatist? maybe. But when our "president" refers to Americans that speak out against his actions and demand a better America as "focus groups", refers to himself as the "decider" and thumbs his nose at OUR constitution and in theory uses threats against Congress should they not vote the "right way", it leaves little to no room for common Americans to make an impact.

    I suppose it's well and good to vent our frustration on this blog and make telephone calls to the White House, but sadly by tomorrow the biggest concern many ill informed and apathetic Americans will have, is how long the line is at the drive-thru of a Tim Hortons.

    July 3, 2007 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  4. Ian, Carrollton, TX

    I try this again since my first comments got removed once they found out it was a conservative posting. How many of the Democrats screaming about the Libby pardon supported President Clinton when he was clearly guilty of perjury, sexual harasmment and rape? How many supported Hillary Clinton when she was stealing classified FBI files on Republican opponents? How many supported Sandy Berger when he was caught stealing classified documents form the national achives to protect Clinton? How many called for the prosecution of the Clintons for stealing furniture and other valuables from the White House when they left? How many support the prosecution of liberal Dick Armitage, the real person who "outed" Valerie Plame. How many cried out when President CLinton pardoned people in exchange for contributions to his presidential library? Another Democrat hypocrisy exposed.

    July 3, 2007 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  5. J. Weaver Toronto, ON (expat)

    Blame the republicans, blame the democrats... until we as Americans understand that we get the government that we deserve because it is us. It is a direct reflection of how hard we are willing to work, how much we are willing to sacrifice and the standards we set for ourselves. Until we get the fact that freedom is not a flat screen TV and liberty does not care what car you drive, and that sometimes our careers need to take the back seat to our families we are destined to mediocrity. I hope to see a day when we realize that the entire system is broken, it’s about money and not the people.

    July 3, 2007 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  6. John B Charlotte, NC

    I just ready Fox news coverage of this story. They quote 2 Republicans, and the 7 Democrats. I guess they are just another example of the liberal bias in news coverage.

    July 3, 2007 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  7. dotmafia

    John Walker Lindh: A young 26 year-old man imprisoned for 20 years for making a mistake.

    Ignacio Ramos: A former U.S. border guard with a wife and children imprisoned for 11 years for making a mistake.

    Jose Compean: A former U.S. border guard with a wife and children imprisoned for 12 years for making a mistake.

    Excessive???

    On the eve of the Fourth of July, now is the time for all Americans to understand that the REAL terrorists are the ones who have actually trampled upon their Constitution and destroyed the rule of law, the terrorists who now sit in the White House, Bush and Cheney. Bin Laden could not have done a better job himself, than these two have done in taking down the once great beacon of democracy in the world. The American people should now begin to seriously ask themselves whether or not Bin Laden is secretly on the Bush payroll, since there seems to be no differentiation between them in their goal to destroy the United States.
    _

    July 3, 2007 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  8. Greg, Largo, Florida

    Before you criticize Bush/Libby, go check Clinton's pardons http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pardonchartlst.htm... Ok, and the Libby thing is a big deal?!?!?! Give me a break! Funny how it was OK for Slick Willy, but God help us if Bush does the same. Talk about double standards!

    July 3, 2007 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  9. Anonymous

    Where is the outrage? The press was all over Paris Hilton within hours of her "commute". This is far more outraging than that. THIS ADMINISTRATION CONTINUES TO BE BLATANTLY CORRUPT, AND LAUGHS IN THE FACE OF ALL AMERICANS WHILE DOING IT!

    July 3, 2007 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  10. bill, new york, NY

    lest we forget the clinton pardons. Mark Rich, the nations largest tax evader and a drug dealer who had a relative donate cash to the Clinton campaing. Where were all of you then? Or is this a case of the same old liberal bigatry? My guess is that if HRC is elected, everyone with dirt on the Clintonians will walk and then mysteriously die in a plane crash ala Commerce Secretay Brown.

    July 3, 2007 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  11. bill, new york, NY

    Lest we forget the Clinton pardons. Mark Rich, the nations largest tax evader and a drug dealer who had a relative donate cash to the Clinton campaign. Where were all of you then? Or is this a case of the same old liberal bigotry? My guess is that if HRC is elected, everyone with dirt on the Clintonians will walk and then mysteriously die in a plane crash ala Commerce Secretary Brown.

    July 3, 2007 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  12. bill new york, NY

    Lest we forget the Clinton pardons. Mark Rich, the nations largest tax evader and a drug dealer who had a relative donate cash to the Clinton campaign. Where were all of you then? Or is this a case of the same old liberal bigotry? (if you speak with a drawl, you must be stupid) My guess is that if HRC is elected, everyone with dirt on the Clintonians will walk and then mysteriously die in a plane crash ala Commerce Secretary Brown.

    July 3, 2007 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  13. WC Scott

    Every pardon and commutation benifits a criminal. What we expect is that person has performed some act to make up for the crime. Libby has not evenbeen punished. His fine will be paid by his efense fund. He has been released by the people he protected with his lies.

    It is unsavory to use your power to peopel whoe crimes benefited the pardoner. The deck was stacked. Libby lied to benefit Bush and Cheney.

    July 3, 2007 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  14. Chris, Atlanta, GA

    For all the posters asking why Republicans are not being quoted -think about it. If you were a Republican, especially one running for president, would you want to go on the record supporting a blatant miscarriage of justice? Would you want to go on the record supporting anything that President Cheney and Mr Hand did?

    I see at this point that Thomson and Giulliani in fact do feel that political cronyism is acceptable -even to the extent of pardoning or commuting sentences of allies that have committed egregious crimes. This means that electing them would mean 4 more years of what we have seen for the last 8. Under no circumstances should these men be elected president.

    Any other Republican that goes on the record should serioulsy consider coming down on the side of justice if they want to remain credible.

    July 3, 2007 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  15. Aaron, Boston MA

    To Ian,
    Were these the comments that were "removed"?
    "How many of these Democrats arguing that actions should have consequences supported President Clinton getting away with perjury, sexual harassment and rape?"
    Nice bit of paranoia there, Ian. Again, completely unfounded.
    If you believe the standards the Clinton Administration operated under were so disgraceful, what standard do you hold the Bush Administration to? Are you suggesting that Bush earned the right to set the bar lower because Clinton was such a scallywag? Seriously, what exactly does accountability mean to you if not punishing someone found guilty of a crime?

    July 3, 2007 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  16. Anonymous

    "George W. Bush (2001 – )
    Pardons - 13
    Commutations - 4

    Bill Clinton (1993-2001)
    Pardons - 396
    Commutations - 61

    George H.W. Bush (1989-1993)
    Pardons - 74
    Commutations: 3

    Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)
    Pardons - 393
    Commutations - 13

    Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
    Pardons - 534
    Commutations - 29

    Gerald Ford (1974-1977)
    Pardons - 382
    Commutations - 22

    Richard Nixon (1969-1974)
    Pardons - 863
    Commutations - 60

    Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969)
    Pardons - 960
    Commutations - 226

    John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)
    Pardons - 472
    Commutations - 100

    Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961)
    Pardons - 1,110
    Commutations - 47

    Harry Truman (1945-1953)
    Pardons - 1,913
    Commutations - 118 "

    But everyone in the Bush admin is above the law right? He's issued the fewest pardons/commutations of any president going back to Truman...Theres presidents on there who served less time than him, yet have more pardons.

    (Btw before I get harped on for being some bushy supporter, I voted for Badnarik in the last election, Im just trying to present clearly obvious facts presented in the origional article)

    July 3, 2007 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  17. Chuck, Bridgton, Maine

    It was a bad choice for Bush..be loyal to a man who sacrificed himself to help cover his own misdeeds, or be loyal to the public at large, to which he pledged an oath to serve. Our president's hole has been dug. Now he's just lying in it.

    July 3, 2007 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  18. Gilbert Cantlin, Berea, Oh.

    The congressional Democrats can criticize Bush for his despicable commutation of the criminal Libby's sentence time while they continue to refuse to take due impeachment action against Bush and Cheney. They and the Republicans in Congress have allowed those two to get away with worse crimes, an utter disregard of our Constitution. How can they dare face anyone and speak out about this? It's more of their meaningless stagecraft, all talk to secure their own royal jobs, and no action protecting the people of this country and preserving their Constitution!

    July 3, 2007 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  19. Joe B., Austin, TX

    Had enough? Vote Democratic.You say there's not a difference? YOU'RE WRONG

    July 3, 2007 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  20. Joe Shepard, Spring Lake North Carolina

    Reading some of these commdents would be really funny, if it were not for the absolute ignorance being posted.
    Every Governor, every President in the history of our nation has had, and has exercised the CONSTITUTIONAL power to commute or pardon. One would be hard pressed to search through history to find ONE President or Governor who has not utilized that power. Commuting Libby, while not exactly pleasing to those who cannot be pleased with anything short of giving our nation away, is totally legal. Should we wish to see true criminal activity–just look to Nancy Pelosi and the Congress.
    Aiding and abetting in the commission of a continuing criminal activity; Accessory before and after the fact of the commission of a federal crime, enabling in the commission of a continuing federal crime, derelection of their constitutional duties, and mis-prison of a felony. All of these regarding the illegal aliens currently flooding our country. So Bush commuted a sentence–he didn't pardon Libby: congress has done nothing either to enforce existing laws regarding illegal aliens or to develope a coherent, logical and rational plan on what to do with them now.

    July 3, 2007 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  21. Timothy Flint, Cincinnati

    Where were we when Clinton pardoned friends? We squealed just as loudly. You bet we did!
    So what makes you think that forgives Bush? Two wrongs do not make a right.

    July 3, 2007 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  22. dotmafia

    Bill,
    Lest we forget Georgie-Boys good friends, Jack Abramoff or Kenneth Lay and Jeff Skillings $200,000 contribution to his inauguration in Jan. 2001 (hmmm Enron shareholder money?) My guess is that before the Chimp leaves office, Abramoff will either mysteriously die in prison, or he will get a full pardon. No matter how many times you post, you can't change the fact that your party is finished.

    July 3, 2007 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  23. al kraatz, skokie, IL

    The Founding Fathers must be turning over in their graves seeing what the Bush administration is doing to the country.

    July 3, 2007 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  24. butai, LA, CA

    I can't wait to listen to the apologists on Bush letting Libby out of jail. I bet they all wanted Clinton impeached, thrown to the wolves, but not Libby. Oh, no... so now the message to my kid is if you are a conservative (supposedly who Bush is pandering to by deciding to let Libby off), you are for two different justices. If you are not a member of the GOP and you are guilty you must be punished, if you are a Republican you can cheat, lie, and get pardoned. Remember when Clinton pardoned his buddies what the conservatives said? Right, I figured so much... And the Media is always so upset that this country is split in two… oh, poor members of the intelligentsia. By God, that is a good thing.

    July 3, 2007 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  25. Outraged, Columbus, Georgia

    Bush's decision to commute rather than pardon was not a "compromise", it was strategical. As long as any part of the Libby conviction remains pending on appeal, Libby's and Cheney's lawyers in the Plame/Wilson civil suit will argue a stay should continue forbidding the production of government documents and witnesses related to the leaking of a CIA agent's identity. The press should be covering this manipulation of justice system. It shows just how calculating the Bush administration is and how determined it is to hide the truth behind the leak.

    July 3, 2007 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
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