July 4th, 2007
01:40 PM ET
3 years ago

Bill Clinton blasts Libby clemency, says his pardons 'different'

Former President Clinton takes a break from the campaign trail in Iowa.

DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton blasted his successor's decision to spare ex-White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby from prison, telling Iowa radio listeners that Libby's case differed from his own administration's pardon controversy.

"You've got to understand, this is consistent with their philosophy," Clinton said during an interview on Des Moines news-talk station WHO. Bush administration officials, he said, "believe that they should be able to do what they want to do, and that the law is a minor obstacle."

Clinton was impeached in 1998 over perjury allegations stemming from his sexual relationship with a White House intern, but the Senate acquitted him. And a flurry of last-minute pardons issued as he left office in 2001 - particularly his absolution of fugitive financier Marc Rich - sparked largely partisan outrage. Critics alleged that the pardon of Rich was linked to contributions raised for Clinton's presidential library by Rich's ex-wife.

Libby's defenders have pointed to Democratic support for Clinton during that period to accuse critics of Bush's clemency order of hypocrisy.

"Wasn't it Bill Clinton that was handing out pardons like lollipops at the end of his administration?" former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, now seeking the Republican presidential nomination, told supporters in Iowa on Tuesday. "And isn't there some recognition that perhaps you might look a little silly if you didn't have anything to say when he was handing out pardon after pardon after pardon for political purposes only?"

But the former president said, "I think the facts were different."

"It's wrong to out that CIA agent, and wrong to try to cover it up - and wrong that no one was ever fired from the White House for doing it," he said.

Clinton's wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, is now seeking the presidency and has been campaigning in Iowa during the Independence Day holiday. She put him on the phone during a Tuesday interview with Iowa political columnist David Yepsen.

Libby served as Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff before his October 2005 indictment. He was not accused of leaking Wilson's identity, but prosecutors argued his false statements hindered their investigation of the disclosure and left a "cloud" over the White House.

The leak occurred shortly after Wilson's husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had gone public with allegations that the Bush administration "twisted" intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Rich fled to Switzerland in the 1980s to avoid racketeering, tax evasion and fraud charges stemming from illegal oil trades with Iran. Libby, who represented Rich from 1985 to 2000, told a House committee in 2001 that prosecutors "misconstrued the facts and the law" in pursuing the tax evasion charges.


Filed under: Bill Clinton • Scooter Libby
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    Everyone has a skeleton in their closet and a vice or two they try to control. With the exception of G.W. Bush who lets his vices ride the world on a whim.

    But, in comparison I would think a Blue Stained Dress is a long way from World Disaster and the perception of Complete Incompetence Internationally!

    On my Moral Scale a personal inuendo or several is a long way from the millions of lives lost thru the ravages of a War based on lies.

    In Short, Clinton caused hurt and despair to himself and family. Bush has and is still causing Global Devastation and Despair world wide!

    And,is there only two candidates in the Presidential Race? One would almost think so.

    July 5, 2007 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  2. John, Detroit MI

    Bill Clinton pardoned his half brother who already served time. Just took it off the record.

    "I don’t remember clinton being Impeached . I think this info is wrong.
    DAVID Antelope Ca "

    Impeachment is just bringing up the charges. Not kicking him out. He was impeached. Congress aquited.

    http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/09/30/wilson.cia/

    I guess Bush did take 'care' of him.

    July 5, 2007 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  3. L Bass, Portland, Or

    As much as I wish we had someone of Bill Clinton's abilities running for the Presidency, simply stating that the pardons are "different" is a poor argument. However, it is symptomatic of the Republican's skewed perspective that they can equate risking lives with a sexual romp. No, Bush is not as honorable as Clinton. Bush's actions are lower on the scale than Clinton's. We definitely need new blood, though.

    July 5, 2007 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  4. HAWK,TX.

    TO ALL YOU RIGHT WINGER'S OUT THERE YOU SHOULD GET YOUR FACTS TOGETHER. BILL CLINTON LIED ABOUT AN EXTRA MARITAL AFFAIR. LIBBY LIED ABOUT OUR NATIONAL SECURITY. I REMEMBER BUSH SAYING THAT ANYONE WORKING FOR HIM WOULD BE FIRED FOR THE LEAK. WELL ALL THE LEAKERS ARE STILL WITH HIM.WHAT A LIAR.

    July 5, 2007 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  5. Carl, Dallas, TX

    Left middle or right... a vast majority of politicians are liars, crooks, theives, and only care about their own agenda (and the ones that donate to get them elected). Whether the lie about affairs or weapons of mass destruction, they are still lies and should not be trusted. At least have someone that is willing to be open and honest... granted throwing that wrench into the political system would wound it...

    July 6, 2007 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
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