July 3rd, 2007
12:43 PM ET
7 years ago

Bush: Full Libby pardon possible

Bush said Tuesday he hasn't ruled out pardoning Libby.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush said Tuesday he wouldn't rule in or out a full pardon for former White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby, after having commuted his 30-month prison sentence Monday.

The president's comments came as he left the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he had been visiting military personnel wounded in the Iraq war.

White House spokesman Tony Snow also discussed the possibility of a pardon in the daily White House briefing.

"There is always a possibility or there's an avenue open for anybody to petition for consideration of a pardon," Snow told reporters. "As far as we know, that's not been done, and we don't know if it's contemplated by Scooter Libby or his defense team."

"The reason I will say I'm not going to close the door on a pardon is simply this: that Scooter Libby may petition for one. But the president has done what he thinks is appropriate to resolve this case," Snow said.

The tumultuous briefing, punctuated by pointed questions from reporters and repeated explanations by Snow, came a day after the president's announcement sparked an uproar by critics claiming the move was another example of the Bush administration believing that it is above the law.

Snow said the president respected the jury's verdict, which found Libby guilty in March of of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements to investigators in the case surrounding the leak of a CIA agent's identity, but he felt that the 30-month prison sentence was "excessive."

The spokesman reminded reporters that Libby still must pay a $250,000 fine and will be on probation for two years.

"So this is hardly a slap on the wrist, in terms of penalty," he said. "It is a very severe penalty."

Snow said politics played no part in the president's decision, which he made after "long consideration."

"The president spent weeks and weeks consulting with senior members of this White House about the proper way to proceed," the spokesman explained.

"And they looked at a whole lot of options and they spent a lot of time talking through the options and doing some very detailed legal analysis."

Snow would not comment on whether Vice President Dick Cheney, Libby's former boss, had weighed in on the decision.

Filed under: Scooter Libby
soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. M.Bavaro, Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Just another example of the Bush administration coverup.

    July 3, 2007 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  2. Ronald Orf Tripoli, Iowa

    maybe I am overly cynical, but I believe that Libby was not willing to fall on his sword for Lord Dick. It was "either commute the sentence or I start talking". How can you blame him? How would you like to be in prison around "Bubbas" and "Killers" with a name like "Scooter".

    July 3, 2007 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  3. Em Kay

    They're right. It isn't a slap on the wrist. It's not severe enough to qualify as a slap on the wrist. What a mockery.

    By the way, nice job repeatedly burying this story, CNN. It's not like the President of the US just commuted the sentence of a political buddy who obstructed the investigation of a treasonous act or anything. Why should that be more important than some fake wrestler who went into a homicidal roid rage?

    July 3, 2007 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  4. Wade, Wilmington NC

    As I stated yesterday, maybe you do listen, this is simply a delay tactic by Pres. Bush and his team of puppet masters to allow the Libby defense team, are we paying for this, the remainder of the presidents’ term to weasel out on appeal. In the end the pardon was always the trump card in the event that justice happened to work the way it should.

    July 3, 2007 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  5. marsha laine

    The reason they believe they are above the law is that, so far, they are. At least this will finally get rid of the illusion of a fair justice system and maybe now we can go about making it a reality.

    July 3, 2007 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  6. Lynn, Vancouver, Canada

    As a Canadian who grew up in the shadow of the US being the "greatest democracy"on earth, I am thankfully glad that my country has a British parlimentarty system. Here the cabinet ministers have to be elected first, the Prime Minister must face parliament every day it is in session and the gov't in power can be overturned by a vote of nonconfidence. It is sad to see how the Bush/Chaney administration has abused the powers in your constitution and even if you tried to empeach them, it would take the rest of their term to do so.

    All your contry seems to do is have elections. I have the sinking feeling that when the next one is over, Guliani or Clinton will be in power and it will be more of the same for you and the rest of the world!!

    July 3, 2007 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  7. JLE, Seattle WA

    This is exactly why I’m voting for Ron Paul. He is the only republican to stand against this commutation. And I know he's against a potential full pardon. Rudy, Thompson, and Romney are out of touch and all in the same group as Bush.

    July 3, 2007 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  8. James Atlanta, GA

    The whole Libby trial was a travesty of justice. It was nothing more than a partisan proxy assult on the Bush adminstration. For Libby, whose only crime was not being able to accurately speak about dates and conversation from years past under duress, to be convicted of a crime when it is common knowlege who actually committed the leak. It is also infuriating if you have followed this case that the testimony that they convicted him on is also contradictory, and that the key witness was also unable to repeatedly give accurate testimony when conversations took place and who knew what. If you use contradictory testimony to convict someone of perjury, which is essentially giving contradictory testimony, then there is something really wrong here. It should have never gotten this far, and politicians and political pundits need to stop using our judicial system to ruin peoples lives for partisan reasons.

    July 3, 2007 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. Keith, Charlotte, NC

    I think I may have been the last holdout... but this is the last straw. A former Marine, lifelong Republican... even I can't get my head around this one. I'm done... I'll take another 4 or 8 years of the Clinton Soap opera over this kind of behavior.

    July 3, 2007 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  10. S. Stanley Smith

    There was never any doubt that Libby would not be incarcerated. The strategy was in place long before the verdict was read. However, I must mention that after the Border Patrol agents werre found guilty and they were sentenced to incarceration, President Bush was asked to step in and pardon the agents and he finally responded by saying that he would need to review the case before he made a decision. But for Libby his decision seems swift.

    July 3, 2007 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  11. Janie Flores, Chicago, IL

    How fortunate for us all, who must contend with parking and speeding tickets to know that all we need to do to have them pardoned is to befriend and financially support President George Bush. Now, I know that parking/speeding tickets are nothing compared to the cowardly and treacherous acts commited by Mr. Libby but don't you just hate it when you get one of those orange tickets placed on your car? And don't you just wish, when you do get one, that it would just disappear? Ok, then. The Bush Administration argues that Mr. Libby lieing under oath did not warrant time in jail. So, I ask you, Mr. President, if I am driving 40mph on on 30mph zone, can my ticket be pardoned because I was trying to get to work on time? NO? Well, maybe then, my child was crying in the back seat? STILL NO? Ok, then, maybe I was trying to help out your Vice-president, Cheney? Oh, then it's ok? Ok well then, by all means, I choose option #3. This administration is a joke and it is irresponsible for George W. Bush to continue acting as if his administration is above law. It's called the Constitution, y'all should read it sometime.

    July 3, 2007 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  12. Paul Wice, Kearney, Nebraska

    The commutation is not surprising, but it was not right. The executive rigt of pardon-to overrule a court decision should be repealed. Clinton did it..."Papa" Bush did it...so have others...the only pardon ever justified was by Prersident Ford to President Nixon for the healing of the country. But Mr. Ford paid for it with his loss to Mr. Carter.

    July 3, 2007 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  13. JC Sherman, III Tigard, Oregon

    Agree or not, this is a privelage that every President is afforded, and that most have used. Bill Clinton pardoned numerous individuals, George H.W. Bush pardoned numerous individuals, etc. The difference with this one, is that this was a commuted sentence, not a full pardon on the last evening of George W. Bush as our President. I promise you that the next President will Commute, and pardon many individuals as well.

    July 3, 2007 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  14. Michael, Cambraidge Ma

    I hereby resign my faith in the justice system.

    On the day before the celebration of our freedom, im ashamed and sickened in everything that our country has become and is under Gerorge dubba.

    Thre are just no words.

    July 3, 2007 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  15. John Brisson, Big Bear Lake, CA

    The most chilling point of the Bush commutation is the fact that he no longer feels inclined to pretend that he isn’t above the law or that he cares one small bit about how the American people feel. It is very
    obvious that he is no longer worried about his legacy and that’s disastrous for all of us!

    July 3, 2007 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  16. Carlos, Orlando, FL

    The Bush administration is simply the most corrupt administration ever.

    If Clinton is elected the next president then the last two decades of American presidency will look like this: BUSH, CLINTON, CLINTON, BUSH, BUSH, CLINTON. 300 million people in this country, and we cant find anybody but these two families to lead it?

    July 3, 2007 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  17. David, Portland OR

    And we focus on these issues rather than dealing with legitimate domestic and international dilemmas. I figured dealing with the millions in our country that don't have health care or the millions abroad who are on the verge of starvation every day should take precedence over something like this. Libby needed to have his sentence commuted and hopefully he is given a full pardon. Yes, he lied...but so did Clinton. Enough said.

    July 3, 2007 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  18. Gregg, MA

    Well...I'm not suprized, disgusted and disheartene, but not suprized.

    This administration clearly believes that they are above the law.

    I am so saddened that our country has to suffer with such lo9w quality leadership for the net 18 months.

    July 3, 2007 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  19. P Fumero Miami, Fl

    What a travesty of the justice system, when convicted criminals are being protected just so that they don't turn on Dick Cheney. In mafia circles that's called "buying the witness".

    July 3, 2007 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  20. P Donnelly Orlando, Florida

    I suspect Mr. Libby would ultimately have cooperated to avoid a prison sentence. The administration knew this and took away Mr. Libby's incentive to assist the prosecution by commuting his sentence. Leaking the name of a CIA operative is an outrage against democracy and places many brave men and women at risk around the world. There is simply no justification to commute Mr. Libby's sentence aside from protecting Mr. Rove and Mr. Cheney. I am confident a full pardon will be forthcoming after the election in 2008. Our leadership continues to demonstrate its belief that the law is a mere nuisance when applied to the Administration and its supports and can be bent to restrict civil liberty in the name of a so-called "war on terror." Once again we are an international joke. We should adopt the British Parlimentary system and allow for a no-confidence vote.

    July 3, 2007 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  21. Dr. Bruce Mims, Lakewood, CA

    I find this series of events, occuring against the backdrop of the Fourth of July's symbolic significance amusing and ironic. In fact, I presently find nothing else more hypocritical.

    At times like these, I guess we must all reflect upon the words of Thomas Jefferson:

    ..."But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security"...

    Enough said?

    July 3, 2007 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  22. Jon, Folsom ~ Ca

    Joeseph Wilson was citing information about the current administration which he KNEW to be lies (since his wife had direct knowledge to the contrary). The administration "outed" his wife to a news correspondent (who chose to publically report this information). Scooter libby gets pardoned....


    Welcome to US politics, folks. Democratic or Republican administrations alike.

    July 3, 2007 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  23. Lew, Denver, Co

    I have called the White House to express my disgust with what appears to be obstruction of justice and keep getting a busy signal. Is that an indication that the same thing is happening as occurred with the immigration bill??

    July 3, 2007 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  24. Ryan, Austin, TX

    All these people who keep complaining that the President is acting "above the law" should read the constitution. All of this would have been avoided had Joe Wilson not lied in the first place. If you are angry about someone lying, you should demand Joe be held accountable for all of this mess centered around a crime that never happened.

    July 3, 2007 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  25. Carson, Santa Cruz, CA

    And we focus on these issues rather than dealing with legitimate domestic and international dilemmas. I figured dealing with the millions in our country that don’t have health care or the millions abroad who are on the verge of starvation every day should take precedence over something like this. Libby needed to have his sentence commuted and hopefully he is given a full pardon. Yes, he lied…but so did Clinton. Enough said.

    Posted By David, Portland OR : July 3, 2007 1:29 pm

    Are you nuts? This isn't about Clinton(who was a scumbag for his pardons) – Clinton has no relevance to this.
    Scooter lied to a Grand Jury. He got caught. The law must be followed. If it was you or me, we wouldn't get a pardon...

    Enough said.

    July 3, 2007 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
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