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. G.A. Wilson Glendale, AZ

    To say Libby "compromised our national security" shows that at least one senator is not yet ready to be president. Remember, Libby was found guilty of lying to investigators who were unable to prove any underlying crime. Unlike Clinton, who lied under oath without consequence, or Clinton's national security advisor, who actually stuffed classified documents down his socks and pants so the 911 commission couldn't see them, Libby was a true victim of a witch hunt. There was never a White House attempt to leak anything to discredit the low level CIA employee in question and while Libby deserves a conviction, he did not deserve prison.

    July 2, 2007 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  2. Carlos G. Tampa, FL

    Another example of Bush and Chennys total disregard and contempt for due process. Isn't it time we start talking IMPEACHMENT. Just how much more damage can we allow these people to do!

    July 2, 2007 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  3. M. Wilk Tiburon, California

    This comes as no surprise. Bush had nothing to lose since he's dispised by just about everyone. But Libby's conviction and harsh treatment by the court exceeds the crime. Remember Clinton was convicted of perjury too, and he skated. Note to Obama: Your reaction not only misrepresents what Libby was convicted of, it once again confirms you're no different than any of your other politically ambitious colleagues.

    July 2, 2007 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  4. Paul, Seattle WA

    Oh that's fair – just get the comments of Democrats, and title it "Washington Reponds" And Obama demonstrates he didn't even understand the case....really really sad. Who leaked the Plame info....?

    July 2, 2007 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  5. Brian, Tulsa, OK

    good job CNN. way to be fair. you get the reaction from ONE side. nice. I don't care what radical democrats have to think – I can pretty much guess WHAT they would say.

    the Libby trial was a joke. Fitzgerald couldn't find anything wrong with Libby so, they got nitpicky and over penalized him.

    his sentence was a joke and made a mockery of the justice system.

    Bush restored justice.

    July 2, 2007 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  6. Tom, Kansas City, MO

    It is with deep sadness that I recommend drafting articles of impeachment for the President and Vice President of the United States. It is not enough for them to end their terms. The blight of their stain must never be allowed to darken the halls of government again. They must be removed from office and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    July 2, 2007 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  7. Murray Friedman Seaford, New York

    It is about time that we consider Impeaching both the President and Vice President

    July 2, 2007 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  8. Worried about our Democracy, Livermore,Ca

    Where are all those "Law and Order" Republicans when you need them!

    I guess there too busy packing the courts and Justice department with GOP cronies.

    I guess Dick and George told Scotter to keep his mouth shut about the inner workings of this administration and they'll "take care of him"

    July 2, 2007 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  9. WWP, Charlotte, NC

    Very balanced list of commentators, CNN. The selective outrage of these people was nowhere to be seen when Bill Clinton was selling pardons.

    July 2, 2007 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  10. Angela, Paxton, Illinois

    Impeach, Impeach, Impeach.

    July 2, 2007 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  11. Daud L. , Oakland, CA

    And to think the republicans wanted to impeach former President Clinton for copulation! The justice system has just been soiled once again by President Bush, and you barely hear a peep about it. All the political boo birds will pretend to be outraged, but nobody will stand up and be accountable. This president and his administration has defiled the constitution since taking office in 2000, and the fact that he's still the president of this country says more about the people than it does the politicians that stand by and do nothing. If you're not outraged by this additional (and by no means last) slap in the face, I question whether a heart pumps blood thru your veins. How many more lies must we be force fed before we choke and pass out? Will he need to knock on your parent’s door and murder them before you stand up and ask that justice be served? I am a firm believer that what comes around goes around, and I fear for the people of America when this comes back around...when this chicken comes home to roost. The "above the law" attitude these people strut around Washington with will carry a negative effect on us all sooner or later, and I don't want to be the one that said I stood by and did nothing. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." Let your voice's be heard before that too becomes censored and that law is perverted as well. There is no greater song than 1 million voices rising up at one time to show the strength they posses in numbers. Don’t think, react…by the time you think it through you’ll be dead, and it will be too late.

    July 2, 2007 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  12. Connie, Louisville, Tn.

    Start impeachment proceedings immediately!!

    July 2, 2007 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  13. Adam, Houston, Texas

    You do realize that he just commuted the sentence and didn't give him a full pardon.

    The sentence was way too harsh for Libby just being a fall guy for Cheney.

    It's not that big of a deal. Just an opportunity for Democrats to keep spewing over the President and not really worry about doing anything themselves.

    July 2, 2007 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  14. Karen, Miami, FL

    I believe it is time for our government to impeach President Bush and that the American People demand this action from our politicians. This president is self-serving and apparently does not understand what the Office of the President represents – the people of the United States of America. This is just another notch in his belt to fulfill his beliefs and not those beliefs of the American people. Bush continues to embarrass the citizens of this country and the end to his political reign will not be soon enough.

    July 2, 2007 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  15. Samuel McKee, Brentwood, California

    It is time for impeachment proceedings to begin and bring these thieves and brigands to the justice they deserve. Americans need to see this happen and the world needs to see this happen and NOW! This should be the last straw! Americans must make a stand against this administration's blatant disrespect for the law, America's middle and lower classes, government since they stole the White House in 2000! Their governance of our precious country is an abomination! Congress, take a stand against these monsters.

    July 2, 2007 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  16. Richard R. Flory

    What else did anyone expect from Dubya? He is morally bankrupt and simply the worst president we have ever had!

    July 2, 2007 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  17. Geoff, Duluth MN

    I'd like to see President Bush go through every case where someone is still serving a sentence for a crime and commute those sentences he thinks are too harsh. Only then will his actions be consistent and his explanation (somewhat) believable.

    July 2, 2007 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  18. Freedom Fighter., Orlando, Florida

    What a 4th of JULY present, eh! Consider yourself SLAPPED RIGHT ACROSS THE FACE on this independence day...

    July 2, 2007 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  19. Monica, Baltimore MD

    It is my great regret that George Bush, Dick Cheney et al will never be held accountable for their myriad crimes against our country and constitution. The only solace we can have as a people is that (a) history will treat them as the incompetent demagogues that they are, the worst administration in the history of our country and (b) every day, we are a day closer to 1.20.09.

    July 2, 2007 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  20. Joe, NY NY

    Why hasn't Bush been impeached?

    July 2, 2007 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  21. David, Houston, TX

    Completely pathetic. The Republicans once again claim the title as the most corrupt party. Bush is doing his best to make sure a Democrat occupies the Whitehouse.

    July 2, 2007 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  22. Gene, Worcester Massachusetts

    How come all but one of the politicians quoted here are partisan Democrats that either hold party leadership positions or are Presidential candidates? Sounds like a "fairness doctrine" issue to me.

    July 2, 2007 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  23. Christopher Pope

    Perhaps this is the right time cor Congress to kill the Presidential pardon. Americans deserve better than to watch their country's laws trampled upon by the extreme self-interests of an executive branch that has lost its ethical/moral compass.

    July 2, 2007 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  24. eli

    once again we the people does not matter to this adminstration, the law does not matter to these folks .. the killing of 3000 soldiers don't care , the will sell america to the highest bidder. politics is just that pile of sh**t

    July 2, 2007 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  25. John W, Tacoma, WA

    Is anyone surprised? Bush and all the Republicans are as corrupt as can be and this is Exhibit A.

    July 2, 2007 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
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