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. Anonymous

    Why only Democratic responses....CNN is sad (and left). I'm done with this news page.

    July 2, 2007 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  2. Mike Foxtrot ; USMC Quantico, VA

    Shameful! As a U.S. Marine Corps officer sitting in a USO now, I feel a sense of dejection. This blow of commutation is probably the last blow that I want tp stomach from serving this DISGRACEFUL Commander-in-Chief. He has no justice, no honor and operates on a sense of values un-realized to we commoners. When MISTER Bush served as the Governor of Texas, he refused to pardon, commutate the sentences of or grant clemency to ANY death row inmates in Texas because he asserted that they were all duly and properly convicted based upon guilt upon reasonable doubt. Today, MISTER Bush released his cronie Scooter Libby from his duly-issued punishment despite a clear conviction. That is without pause simply DISHONORABLE, without COURAGE and completely lacks COMMITTMENT to fairness, justice and the cause of the basic American. You, MISTER Bush are no longer capable of leading Marines who serve under the tenets of HONOR, COURAGE and COMMITTMENT. President Clinton was impeached for far less, and his cause for impeachment did not result in the death of my fellow Marines, Sailors, Soldiers or Airmen. History was be late in judging you, MISTER Bush, but know that I like many others hold you in utter disdain in the present.

    July 2, 2007 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  3. David S., Houston, Texas

    Pardons and commutations are nothing new, each President has the right granted to him and every President who has ever held office has done so and will continue to do so.

    The detractors are in the business of making sound bites and aren't truly angry at the President, they must make a show to their constituency that they're are 'on the job', to be silent give the perception that they don't care, they really don't care, they just can't give the perception that they don't care.

    After the election of 2008 is over and we have a President elect, that person will have a list of persons to pardon and/or commute. They'll be paying back favors, rewarding party loyalist, this is the way the wheels of progress are greased, a practice that goes as far back as the President Jackson Administration of 1829-37.

    Regardless of the crimes committed, it is a Presidential privileged and he will do so at his privilege.

    July 2, 2007 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  4. Tim, Huntsville, AL

    If George Bush were to be impeached, would he simply pardon himself?

    July 2, 2007 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  5. Joe Busby, San Francisco, CA

    Come on CNN – this is supposed to be "Washington's take"? Is everyone in Washington a Democrat? 8 quotes, 8 Democrats?

    Want to ask a Republican their opinion perhaps?

    July 2, 2007 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  6. Rev. Ronald G. , Arvada, CO

    This is a blot not only on American Justice but a complete affront to the Constitution of the United States, and to all Christians! To have a corrupt, arrogant, ignorant, NON-Christian President use his Office for Political favors and to give in to Darth Cheney as I'm sure he did, just shows how we are all headed to HELL because of this Administration, and for our silence! God will not tolerate such arrogance and this Administration will have to answer for their lies, con-games and greed. Just before they die, they will ask for forgiveness and there will be none! God will not forgive the actions of this Nimrodian Government!
    Rev. Ronald G.

    July 2, 2007 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  7. Jackie, Baltimore MD

    When Bill Clinton lied under oath, the Republican Congress took the virtually unprecedented step of impeaching him for something that had nothing to do with his performance as President. Those proceedings distracted this nation's government and provided a breeding ground for the terrorism this administration so frequently claims it is saving us from. Now Scooter Libby lies about a matter of national security–and potentially life and death of a government agent–and his sentence is commuted! This only makes sense in this hypocritical, fascist oligarchy. Both George Bush and Dick Cheney should be impeached and convicted. Disgusting.

    July 2, 2007 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  8. Mr.

    I love how people want justice when it is someone else, but when it is them, MERCY PLEASE!

    July 2, 2007 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  9. Daniel La Grave, Boulder Colorado

    The damage Mr Libby has done to the integrity of this nations security and intelligence services is beyond questionable, now the commander-in-chief intends to send the message that it is acceptable to disclose and destroy the identity of career operatives for political reasons. I suppose he considers the enforcement of the law carried out by the judicial system in this case to have stemmed from political activism, and he would indeed be right, meaning the political activism which spawned from his very own administration with no other aim than to spin the debate away from his own leadership failures.

    July 2, 2007 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  10. Greg, Chicago IL

    What is it going to take for Americans to rise up and hit the streets about this stuff? We just sit back and let Bush, Cheney and the rest of the administration make a mockery of our democracy in a way that is insulting to our collective intelligence. The saddest thing is that we just let them get away from it. Democrat, Republican, it doesn't matter-the point is that we have a government administration that doesn't care in the slightest what the people think-only what THEIR people think. Disgusting.

    July 2, 2007 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  11. A. Smith of Dallas, Texas

    Curiously, the Democrats object to Bush's commutation of Libby's prison sentence, which is not equal to a pardon of the conviction. Let us now equally remember and emphasize how conveniently silent the Democrats were in 2001 when President Clinton pardoned William Borders for conspiracy to corruptly solicit and accept money in return for influencing the official acts of a federal district court judge Alcee L. Hastings, and to defraud the United States in connection with the performance of lawful government functions - among the 100 or so pardons Clinton granted to serious offenders in the wee hours of January 21 before Bush's 2001 inauguration.

    July 2, 2007 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  12. TM - Denver, CO

    Just when I thought Bush couldn't get any lower....he throws away the judgement of the justice department.

    Why doesn't he just go ahead and declare dictatorship and be done with it. Then he would be free to eliminate the justice department.

    It is pathetic overall....which is a shame...you would hope that the president of united states would have SOME regard for the system, its people....but he doesn't.

    A favor for a traitor.

    July 2, 2007 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  13. Tracy, Wilmington Delaware

    This decision by George Bush (I can't even come to grips and call him President any more) only solidifies what people around the world think of our government (A JOKE). Not only should Congress begin IMPEACHMENT proceedings against George Bush, but also that other incompetent clown- Dick Cheyney.

    July 2, 2007 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  14. Dave - Richmond, VA

    Would the Democrats please move on with fellow Republicans and start impeachment proceedings against this administration? Illegal wiretapping, traitors to the US by leaking names of CIA operatives, breaking Constitutional laws, basically every underhanded trick that can be had on the American citizens, what more does it take?

    What happened to upholding the Constitution by this VP and President? They make me sick with how they have trashed all the morals and ethics of our country, and they claim to be Christians?

    They keep proving, those with the gold makes the rules over and over. Its not how our forefathers intended this country to governed.

    It makes me so upset to have to explain to my son that what these men do is not what was intended with our government, I should not have too.

    July 2, 2007 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  15. Leigh, Norfolk, NE

    While I agree that this commutation is a complete injustice, I'm curious as to why the only opinions I'm reading on CNN's website are Democratic in nature. President Bush may have the right to commute a sentence, but it doesn't make it right, or just. It's tactics such as these that have swayed by opinion from the current administration.

    But from a "non-biased" media organization, why isn't there equal coverage from both political parties? It's tactics such as these that have swayed my opinions away from the news media. It's unfortunate that so many of our "respected" news outlets are either completely, and transparently, in support of, or against one political party or the other.

    Just give us the information so we can make our own opinions on the matter. Don't report a one-sided argument for the sake of ratings.

    July 2, 2007 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  16. Neil, Los Angeles, CA

    I agree that given what Libby was convicted of, this pardon seems outrageous. But, it's not like Clinton (the hero of the Dems) didn't exonerate 5 dozen perps on the last day of his presidency, all of whom had been convicted or indicted on extremely serious charges. But, I guess people only cry foul against the other team.

    July 2, 2007 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  17. Evan Richards, McFarland, WI

    The President is not just above the law, he is the law.

    July 2, 2007 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  18. Joan Klingman Ellenton Florida, 34222

    I am saddened and disgusted by the Presidents awful decision to put himself above the judicial branch of goverment, a considered verdict by a jury of Mr. Libby's peers, and a sentence imposed by a Republican judge which was totally within Federal sentencing guidelines.

    July 2, 2007 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  19. Todd, Stockon CA

    Why is anyone surprised? I knew he was going to do this as soon as he was convicted. Does anyone remember G. Gordon Liddy? If deep throat didn't happen the watergate scandal would have stopped at Liddy. Liddy was pardoned (all be it after several years). So its only logical that Scooter would have been pardoned. Ironically Scooter was working for Liddy during the whole watergate shake down. So Scooter borrowed a play from his bosses play book. Take the heat for the hire ups and you'll get a presidential pardon after it all blows over. Happens everytime.

    July 2, 2007 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    This man committed a crime – he lied under oath. Perjury, my friends, is what Scooter Libby is guilty of. He should have stayed in prison and served his sentence, but history will remember it was Bush who freed him.

    July 2, 2007 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  21. Frank Foote, Tilden, PA

    Let us not forget that the Clinton Administration (family) actually sold pardons to drug dealers. I concur with the President that this sentence was excessive. Let's move on. Isn't there a Paris Hilton Story to report on today?

    July 2, 2007 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  22. Ed, Tolar and Texas

    Let's see. Umm...

    A government official doesn't tell the truth about conversations and uses lawyers and a wide array of procedures and complicated laws to overt cooperation in an government investigation, and this differs significantly from the day in and day out activities of politicans in the beltway? His sentence is 2 1/2 years in prison for such egregious activity.

    A wife married to a preacher shoots him and kills him because she had to wear high heels and a wig when they engaged in sexual activity and she is sentenced to 2 years? Um...

    It is a big, ole goofy world out there.

    July 2, 2007 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  23. Wayland Yan, Albuquerque, NM

    Bush and Cheney lied about non-existent WMDs in Iraq to start a war that's killed an estimated 600,000 Iraqis as a direct or indirect consequence of Bush's invasion. An invasion that was sold based on fabricated intelligence and lies as told by Rumsfeld, Rice, Cheney, Scooter Libby and George Bush.

    When Joe Wilson spoke up against this administration's lies, his wife's undercover identity was exposed as a political vendetta against Wilson. There is no doubt that Rove and Cheney were directly behind it and Scooter Libby committed perjury to cover his masters.

    Bush, Cheney, Libby, Rove, Rice and Rumsfeld were all involved. 3550 American servicemen and women have died and over 20,000 wounded at a cost of $500 billion. The world's favorable opinion of the U.S. is at a record low 7% and terrorism is worst then before Bush's ill-conceived invasion.

    Our justice system and our Constitution have been absolutely and completely compromised and basically destroyed. Legalized torture, warrantless wiretaps, kidnapping, suspension of habeas corpus. This administration has proved that you can lie to start a war and literally get away with murder.

    The American people and Congress must take a stand before this country reaches a point of no return. We might have already reached it.

    July 2, 2007 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  24. P. Barth, Shokan, NY

    This just another blatant in the face "see what I can do" piece of injustice. The next step won't be so mild. It will really show you why Dubyah has that permanent smirk on his face. What gets me is that no one has called for impeachment of this cabal that has ruined the US. The first thing that Pelosi said when she got into office was "no impeachment" for Bushie Boy. If ever an administration (every last one of them) deserved to be ousted, it's this one! The rumblings of revolution are being heard throughout the internet. I sure hope there are still some manly souls out there for such an undertaking.

    July 2, 2007 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  25. John Krikorian, Darnestown, MD

    I guess Michael Moore deserves an apology from those who didn't believe what he had to say.

    July 2, 2007 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
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