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. Steven Daniel Leonard Miami, Florida

    What the President has done today is what defines maladministration of Justice. We the people suffer, and the administration care's only for it's own people, not American Law's, Ethic's and Principal's.
    Today is another day of suffering that our whole nation has to endure, due to an Agenda that Bush and Cheney has set our course upon. The President, Vice President and many in our Federal Administration, wipe their butt with the U.S. Constitution, and we are watching it on a daily basis, and do nothing to fight for our right's.
    We are watching the hands of time be turned backward before our very eye's by the politics and actions of the President and "his men".

    July 2, 2007 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  2. Bill, Acworth Ga.

    Actually this is one of the few things Bush has done right. How many of us would remember the tiniest details from a couple of years back? Or even a couple of months back? Libby was never charged with the leak just remembering things differently than others.(who in several instances were proven to have faulty memories) Peoples disgust or even hatred for George Bush should not cause a man with an otherwise unblemished record and a lifetime of public service to become scapegoat of the week. Now if only Bush will be consistent and pardon or at least commute the border patrol agents that were previous scapegoats of the week. Libby's sentence was completely over the top but it still doesn't hold a candle to the sentences of those agents.

    July 2, 2007 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  3. Don Larive,Sr.Bellville, texas...

    OBAMO WOULD SAY ANYTHING TO GET ISLMA IN THE GOV. AND THE PEOPLE FOR HIM OR JUST AS BAD; LIBBY did what he thought was right. An 30mo's. Hell a killer would not get that much time with the smart lawerys we have today using our constiution agains our own people.

    July 2, 2007 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  4. Bill, St. Paul, Minnesota


    A great country, a pathetic leader.

    Please speak out.

    July 2, 2007 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  5. John, Vinton, Va. 24179

    This is just one more example of how arrogant the Bush Administration really is. But it's hard to say the Democrats are any better. I have always believed good can come of evil and if that is still true, a stong, viable independent party/candidate will be elected President in 2008.

    July 2, 2007 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  6. D. Nelson, Los Angeles, CA

    Once again George W. Bush and his administration has shown the country its distain for the judicial system by commuting Scooter Libby's sentence. The Watergate gang and the Richard Nixon were rookies compared to Bush, Cheney and Rove. The one thing in common was their arrogance. Let's hope this is the final straw that breaks the camel's back and public outrage turns to action.

    July 2, 2007 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  7. Dwight Larkins, Lawrenceville, Georgia

    Let's see here....reactions from 8 Democrats and 0 Republicans. Thanks CNN for yet another unbiased news story!

    July 2, 2007 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  8. J. Brown, Fayetteville, WV

    Truly disgusting. This is no longer America...the America I used to know seems to exist only in history books. Ditto, Bob Earl, revolution is right.

    July 2, 2007 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  9. Jerry Gulyes, Holly Springs NC

    Scooter Libby was tried by a Republican prosecutor, convicted by an impartial jury of US citizens and sentenced by a Republican Judge. That is fair justice. George Bush has hurt this country in the worst way and continues to do so with his commuting Libby's sentence. For those who consider themselves Republican I hope you recognize a pathetic President who has done more harm to your party then Democrats could ever have done. This intellectually stunted caricture of a man simply cannot understand the complexity of the problems he alone has created. Lets hope for that the Democrats and Republicans just stalemate each other for the next year and half so Bush can do no more harm to this country.

    July 2, 2007 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  10. JC Waldport, Oregon

    Whie I agree that this was not justified, I do not have any respect for the likes of Harry Reid comments. He lied (said I forgot) to disclose a multimillion Las Vgeas strip land scam and got clean away (so Far ) also. Who can we trust? Certainly not Bush or Reid. Politians and diapers need to be changed regularly for the same reasons.

    July 2, 2007 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  11. James, Atlanta, GA

    So CNN... any chance of getting some balance to your ticker? Surely Democrats and their lapdogs aren't the only ones talking about this...

    I pretty strongly disagree with Bush on this but I'd like to see comments from the other side as well if only to hear how its being defended.

    So far this ticker is disgustingly biased in who you've chosen to quote.

    July 2, 2007 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  12. Greg Katechis

    It will be interesting to see how the Republican candidates handle this situation. I believe most (if not all) said that they would pardon Scooter, as they felt his sentence was excessive, so will they all stick with the same story or will someone finally separate themselves from the pack?

    This administration is an abomination to justice and this further sets that fact into stone. You're only guilty if you're not friends with the President. Way to go George.

    July 2, 2007 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  13. Stan, New York, NY.

    Another example of how principled we arent. Some are above the law while others lives are ruined by it. There are so many in jail for so much less. Its a sad joke that Libby, Rove and Cheney treasonously outed an American intelligence official in an effort to ruin a soldier in the war on terror because her husband called the administration on fabricating grounds to start an unnecessary, illegal, and very costly (in terms of destruction, death and cash)war. Everyone knows it yet no accountability. Democracy and the Constitution are cheapened once again. Whenever confidence in equal justice is compromised, the seeds of a less virtuous future are fertilized.

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

    At least Paris Hilton and Martha Stewart had the guts to serve out their prison terms! I hope Bush will remeber that just because he "Broke" a criminal out of prison, does NOT mean that criminal is innocent!

    July 2, 2007 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  15. mj, la

    George Bush is a horrible President.

    July 2, 2007 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  16. Eldon, Mobile, Al.

    We all better look out, this person (suppose to be the President of these United States) is ticked off because his Amenity Bill was not approved so now he is going to show us all.
    He is going to take it out on American and her people, he is above the law. How dare him and his buddy Dick Chaney. He reminds me of a child in a candy store who did not get his way so now he is throwing a temper tantrum. Quite frankly, I would vote for impeachment. He has caused so much destruction to the image of America, so many unnecessary deaths of our young service people, so many lives destroyed and their families and caused so much hatred in the world since he took office that I can not wait for him to leave. I find it hard to believe that anyone else could have done a worse job.

    I can just imagine Al Gores thinking, “well you wanted him and now look at what he has done” are you happy now! Al, I am truly sorry, I honestly dough that you could have done a worse job.

    July 2, 2007 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  17. Ron, Arlington, VA

    The president's commutation of Libby's jail time shouldn't surprise any of us. This president and this administration have consistently taken the position that they are above the law, have consistently misled the American public to get legislation passed, and have destroyed America's foreign policy and the credibility of America around the world. If you read about this president's actions as well as the actions of other high officials, i.e., Cheney, and didn't know it was American, you would think you were reading about a dictatorship.

    July 2, 2007 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  18. Rob, Levittown, PA

    Maybe Pelosi, Reid, Schumer and Obama would like some cheese with their whine! All they want is for someone, anyone from this Administration to go to jail, no matter how inconsequential the crime!

    July 2, 2007 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  19. Charles Freeman

    Take notice, this is who all of you religious, right wing, conservative, bored house wives have voted into our offices twice now.

    July 2, 2007 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Well, now both Bush and Cheney have shown that they have balls. The question now is do any of the Democrats or are they just full of hot air. If the Republicans can get away with the impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton by arguing the necessity of upholding the "RULE OF LAW", How can the Democrats and any Republicans with any semblence of decency over look this blatant disregard for both the nations national security and fundamental sense of justice. If Congress spends no more than lip service to Bush and Cheney, then the Dems are just showing they don't have the courage nor common sense to lead this great country

    July 2, 2007 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  21. Ben B

    I think we should all applaud the President for his courageous actions, to save his adminstration official from jail time. After all, Libby fell on the sword to protect his masters. President Bill Clinton, why didn't you commute Susan McDougal's sentence? She went to jail because she wouldnt sing. I think you may have had that disease called 'Conscience'. Our current President has no such problems.
    I suspect it is our in-house genius, Karl who advised on commuting Libby's sentence so that it will take the heat away from purposeless and unending Iraq war. Karl, take a bow. You never cease to amaze us. What will they credit you with next? Fixing immigration problems and healthcare mess, I hope.

    July 2, 2007 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  22. Audrey Wolz Kaneohe, Hawaii

    This action, while sickening, does not surprize me. I would have expected no less from this pathetic, lying, and self-serving administration and President. 1-20-09, the end of an error, cannot come soon enough! I only pray we will be able to undo the damage that President Bush has inflicted upon this country.

    July 2, 2007 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  23. Rich, Playa Del Rey California

    What does this administration have to do to get you people up off of your couches to do something?! In any other country their citizens would be marching in the streets. Not in America. As long as the problem is not knocking directly on our front doors we just sit back and shake our heads.
    Get up! Call your local Representative. Write a letter. Get angry. Don't look back and say I should've done something...anything; Because, guess what? That problem has been knocking on your door for years. Soon it will be kicked in because you just sat there. Speak up now while you still have the right. When that door gets kicked in they're not going to be there to ask you what you think.

    July 2, 2007 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  24. Eric, Barrington, IL

    Just wondering when you say "Washington Responds" in your headline, does that include Republican reaction as well? Pretty one-sided for an "impartial" news source.

    July 2, 2007 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  25. Cheri, Erwin, Tn

    Why am I so not surprised by this? At least Paris Hilton served her time.

    July 2, 2007 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
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