July 2nd, 2007
06:57 PM ET
12 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. Erica Bloomington, Indiana

    Why no balance Warren from Houston et others? Why because no Fairness Doctrine! Thought you folks on the right liked it that way! No need to give equal time to both sides of an issue. That's why you can have markets where it 24/7 right wing radio. It's why you can have Fox News..er Faux News (hey if you can call CNN Clinton News Network I can mangle Fox's name too).

    You want equal time? You want equal coverage? Then support bringing back the Fairness Doctrine. That way when Hardball gives Ann Coulter an entire hour to rant, they need to give someone like Rachel Maddow or Stephanie Miller a whole hour to talk.

    Oh...and what Bush did yesterday once again shows his lack of leadership and respect for the rule of law. IMHO.


    July 3, 2007 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  2. jon

    C'mon folks. This was a tactical move. By commuting his sentence, Bush guarantees that Scoot still has the right to plead the fifth if hauled before congress. The 250k is already paid for by cronies, the feleony record covered by his future lobbying opportunities.

    This was a BRILLIANT MOVE.

    July 3, 2007 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  3. Matt, Glendale, CA

    What the heck is OUR problem? If a man (our pres) breaks every possible criminal law in the book, what would it take for US TO stand up for our rights and put him on trial. Yes Impeachment for god's sake.

    July 3, 2007 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  4. j.carroll, San Gabriel, CA

    Bush didn't waste any time did he? Ya gotta rescue those good soldiers that lied for ya.Clinton lied about a sexual indescretion. He was impeached. Cheney, Bush, Rove, et.al violate the law everyday, ignore the constitution, and are laughing their way through it all. Tell me why Bush and Cheney don't deserve at least the same (numerous times over)that Clinton got? Impeach!

    July 3, 2007 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  5. Margaret Johnson-Dennis, Warsaw, Illinois

    What an outrage! This morning I heard on the local news about a fellow who was sentenced to 32 years in prison on drug and gun violations. Now that's excessive!!!

    July 3, 2007 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  6. kay, durham nc

    When will the two border patrols time be commuted? I think a lot of people now will just ignore the law because apparantly it doesn't mean anything any more.

    July 3, 2007 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  7. 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 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  8. Lucas Augusto . San Francisco . CA

    To all people who voted for Bush in 2000 just because he seemed more "likable" than Gore.

    To all the people who voted for Nader in 2000 to protest the "alternatives".

    To all the people who did not even bother to vote all...

    All I have to say is: YOU ARE REAPING

    I do feel sorry for America. Too bad too many people don't mind spending days in line just to get an iPhone instead of caring about good government and respect for the rule of law.

    Unfortunately, I do fear for the future
    of iur great country.

    July 3, 2007 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  9. Joe Shepard, Spring Lake North Carolina

    Ah–MR in New York, the right wing liberal hysteria is in full voice today, isn't it? You can't argue the facts, so you argue the person by calling me names?? Very adult. Go back and reread my original post. I neither approved nor disapproved of Bush's actions. I simply stated a fact–the commutation is completely legal. And, its not a case of being legal for Bush/Republicans and not for anyone else ( Democratic liberals). Do we really want to go back and investigate just how many pardons/commutations were granted by Presidents in the past oh, 50 years or so? Do we wish to investigate the crimes which required a presidential pardon/commutation? How about we begin by checking into the pardons/commutations made by that absolute paragon of virtue and truth–the impeached Bill Clinton? No? I didn't think so. To quote a man far wiser than either of us: " From the cowardice that fears new truth; from the mediocrity that accepts only half-truth, and from the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth, Dear God, please deliver me. "

    July 3, 2007 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  10. Malmesbury, UK

    Why can you pardon this man and condemn to death so many in Texas? Who are you fooling with this? I have lost all respect. I was looking forward to when you left office based on other inept decisions. It MUST come sonner.

    July 3, 2007 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  11. Charles F. Pierce, Otego, N. Y.

    To the many who say "Impeach Bush and Cheney now!"

    Bush would just laugh at Congressmen because two thirds of the Senate would have to agree for conviction; and, the judge would be the Chief Justice appointed recently by Bush. Republicans continue to protect Bush as a wild animal protects its young!

    Voting in November 2008 is critical to gaining enough of a majority for removal from office. The entire World awaits our actions. Sometimes success has to be a last minute thing.

    No two persons deserve removal from office as having the most corrupt, immoral, incompetent administration ever than Wartime Deserter W. Bush and Cheney! We must do it efficiently.

    July 3, 2007 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  12. Bill Denton, Los Angeles, California

    What hyperbole...all you screaming commenters....get a grip...this was small potatoes compared to the Clintons...unauthorized, they actually removed FBI files of 700 Americans, including their IRS info, which is a felony, trying to find information on a select few targets, with the files scattered about like so many anthrax spores. One more than one occasion, they had sensitive information that had been strategically mislaid, later claming it was a "bureaucratic snafu"...Bush isn't the worst president, not by a long shot, nor is he close to being the best..but he has tried to keep our economy flowing, keep us safe, and protect our rights (why aren't you all screaming about the Supreme Court eminent domain decision, courtesy of the lefties on the Court...easily the worst decision of the past 50 years...that strikes at the heart of personal property rights??) and he has largely succeeded (low inflation, low interest rates, unprecedented succession of quarterly economic growth), with the exception of the Iraq war...no question a HUGE debacle. I'll be the first to admit that Clinton was internationally one of our most charismatic presidents, and STILL the trend line of terrorism was increasing during his administration...what we're facing today was going to happen regardless of who was/is in office. If all of you read more, you would know that our freedoms are under much more risk from the Dems on so many legislative fronts...stop squawking like a bunch of magpies, just because everyone else is...You're coming off like a bunch of clueless whiners. You call yourselves Americans? You sound like Canadians!!

    July 3, 2007 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  13. milo Atanta GA

    7 years later, I still believe George W. Bush stole the first election, and most probably the second, and the blatent disregard of justice from the top will hopefully come back to kick him in the ass, so all you smart people up there in Washington, need to get to work and take this deck of cards down, where it belongs, no doubt Libby will be pardoned in the end, so he can resume a life in the tragedy which is inherent in the political process churning its way to destroy our country, and ultimately make Jesus return sooner than later. Justice is a crock of crap, but you can't take any of it with you, they will find out.

    July 3, 2007 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  14. E, Anchorage AK

    Bedtime for democracy!

    July 3, 2007 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  15. Andy_Nashville,TN

    No question that the power to commute exists in the executive branch. The question is why was this man's sentence commuted. The connection of this entire event with the unnecessary invasion of Iraq and covering up the tunnel vision of this administration to justify that invasion just keeps getting worse. My Dad always said if you lie once you have to lie to cover that one and lie to cover that one. Bill Clinton was a liar but he is not responsible for sending our troops to Iraq. Thousands of young men have died because of this administration's ego. Perhaps Cheney's business dealings cancel out the Clinton administration's. But lying about an inappropriate sexual act hardly compare to sending my friends and fellow citizens to die for a cause that has less and less credibility and started with a lie to try to create some credibility in the first place.

    July 4, 2007 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
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