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

    so much for rule of law

    July 2, 2007 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  2. Robert Alan

    President Bush's commutation of "Scooter" Libby's sentence sends a very clear message of Republican principles: lie, cheat and take one for the team, and you'll earn your reward.

    Impeach Now!

    July 2, 2007 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  3. Georgia, Kennesaw GA

    The President's opinion, "The Constitution gives the President the power of clemency to be used when he deems it to be warranted. It is my judgment that a commutation of the prison term in Mr. Libby's case is an appropriate exercise of this power." Couldn't be more wrong.

    The Founding Fathers deliberately exempted impeachable offenses from reprieve and pardon, hence it should be undestood that the intent was NOT to excuse offense carried out in the conduct of service to the government. Surely, they did not grant the executive this power in order to protect his own administration from oversight.

    The reprieve of Scooter Libby is an outrage. By taking the sting out of sentencing, President Bush is giving overt approval for perjury and contempt. With so many investigations still ongoing with regard to the actions of this administration, the decision is deleterious to the rule of law, and it cannot go unanswered by Congress.

    If the Congressmen and Senators you've quoted are true to their convictions, the should, at a minimum, express their views as "Sense of the Senate" and "Sense of the House" legislation in order to preserve for our posterity a record of this contemptuous action.

    July 2, 2007 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  4. Dorothy M. Oliver, Greensboro, NC

    Why is everyone surprised that Bush let Libby go? Remember he said, "I am the decider." He means, "I decide everything."

    July 2, 2007 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  5. Naomi, Cincinnati, OH

    I am appalled at the lack of respect for the law and the justice system of our country by the President. I am ashamed and embarrassed by this obvious "good ole boy" mentality. How much longer do we have to endure this lack of leadership???

    July 2, 2007 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  6. Gregory Farino, Marietta, GA

    We have a two-tier economy, a two-tier health system and a two-tier legal system which all revolve around those that have or havenot. When will enough Americans have the stomach to stick up for an American system of values that insists that this is a country that demands equality not inequality?

    Today, our system of government was commuted along with Libby's sentence. Let us show the President how we feel and insist on an Special Prosecutor to investigate what may really have been a Vice-Presidential conspiracy of betrayal.

    July 2, 2007 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  7. Ken Ihrig, Allen Texas

    I love the nice balanced Washington responses. First one is a Democrat, dito for the second, third, forth, fifth, ..., wait all of them! Do you even bother to talk to Republicans anymore?

    The only reason Libby was charged at all was because the special console couldn't find any laws that were broken. That's right, he investigated a crime that never occurred. He realized that after being on the job for a couple of days but instead of immediately ending the investigation (and thereby ending his job) he instead decided to go fishing. Anyway I'm glad Libby got commuted. Its unfortunate however that he had to go through all that he did.

    July 2, 2007 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  8. Richard Turner, Aurora Colorado

    "Scooter" was a patsy for a number of persons in the White House and the Vice President's office. After-all, someone had to take the rap to stop the prosecuteres from looking further. Now, he gets pardoned. Probably the least un-just thing to happen in this whole affair. The real leakers of National Security information are still at their desks, in the administration of George W. Nixon.

    July 2, 2007 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  9. Jim Nyman, Barnstable, MA

    Further proof Pres. Bush had war in Iraq as His utmost goal at all costs, knowing that the truth would have prevented U.S. attack, invasion, occupation.

    July 2, 2007 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  10. Paul-Quincy IL

    What else can you expect from the Cheney Administration!

    July 2, 2007 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  11. Joseph Sanders Clinton, Iowa

    If the Democrats in Congress won't start impeachment on Bush/Cheney after this unpardonable commute then what good are they?

    July 2, 2007 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  12. michelle, valrico, florida

    This is not a surprise. Continued arrogance from Bush. He won't be stopped. Next stop Iran.

    July 2, 2007 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  13. Joshua

    Bush and Cheney both need to be impeached and convicted. They do not represent the U.S. constitution and they sure as hell don't defend it.

    July 2, 2007 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  14. Sam, Green Mountains, Vermont

    This is a disgrace. This solidifies Bush as the worst "leader" our nation has ever seen. A great example to our young people. "It's okay to break the law if you have the power to jump above it." That son of Bush is not my President, nor my leader. The only GW worth mentioning as President is our founding father, President George Washington. We miss the good ol'days, except for the whole slavery thing.

    July 2, 2007 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  15. Carl, Atlanta GA

    This is an extremist government hidden behind a black suit and tie. White power. White collar power. Big government power. What ever happened to our checks and balances?

    This is not American. This is some other way of life. I didn't think this could happen here. The American people have been threatened by this government, manipulated with fear, and now our laws are being ignored. The number of offenses against the American people by the Republican party is a long one. This is tiranny.

    Who cares about Libby? I, honestly, couldn't care less whether he rots in jail or is let free. But, this is just another example of how the Republican party has turned against its constituents.

    In light of what Bush is doing, I would rather he just lied about sex with an intern. It's that bad. I would rather have a bad husband in office that this guy.

    I have done some soul searching these last few years and I can say that I will no longer tell anyone I was ever a Republican.

    July 2, 2007 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  16. Amanda R. LaRosa, Ladera Ranch/Orange County, CA

    Something is terribly, terribly wrong when the Leader Of The Free World openly expresses "no confidence" in a system he is sworn to uphold by commuting a sentence for no reason other than he doesn't like it. Explaining -or excusing – his actions by stating that the "harsh sentence (was) based in part on allegations never presented to the jury" reveals complete ignorance of the rules of evidence. Information not presented to a jury is either overlooked by counsel (unlikely in this case) or inadmissable. Apparently he continues to get judical advice from his former Supreme Court nominee, Harriett Miers, yet another recipient of White House patronage that made the public wonder just what the president was thinking.

    January 2009 cannot come quickly enough.

    July 2, 2007 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  17. David S., Palos Verdes, California

    Perhaps there is some good in this. Just perhaps more Americans will start to realize that Bush & company only view the white house as a platform to enrich themselves and put plenty of money in their friend's pockets and protect all those who are loyal - even to the extreme we witnessed today. Justice? Law? Freedom? Truth? These are just useful terms for manipulating the public along with fear (pointed out very well in Al Gore's Assault on Reason)for persuasive presentations that have no correspondence to reality. This may be a good move in the sense that it could serve as a breaking point where enough reasonable Americans will start to see sense in action - taking legal action against Bush,a person who deserves to be tried in the Hague for war crimes.

    July 2, 2007 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  18. Richard Kane, Crofton Md

    This is very bad. Does this mean the president is going to introduce a bill to congress that says if you lie in court you will pay a fine, but will due no time?

    July 2, 2007 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  19. Sean Dallas, TX

    Wow, wow. What else can you say about this guy? By far the worst President ever.

    July 2, 2007 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  20. Matt, Denver Colorado

    Funny that all the posted reactions are from democrats, not a single republican statement. CNN = Communist News Network

    July 2, 2007 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  21. William, Campbell Ca.

    This is a national disgrace (or should I say a continuing act of the 6+ year national disgrace?). I suspected this was the case all along... i.e. hope that the jury doesn't convict, but with a back end deal that if they do that a Pardon will be issued prior to any jail time. No doubt the $250K won't come from Libby but will be covered since he took the bullet for Dick and W. The corruption will continue until the people can be heard in Nov '08. I just hope the country can be spared even more damage to it's reputation, the environment, the judicial system, etc... I feared this Admin would set the country back 50 years, but I'm afraid that was a conservative estimate.

    July 2, 2007 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  22. Charles Francis, Boston MA


    Let's remember that Scooter was not the leaker. And the prosecution knew that all along.

    If there is outrage at his commutation, why is there not similar outrage (and more) about the lack of ANY prosecution of the leaker?

    Just a question...


    July 2, 2007 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  23. Chris, Portland, Or

    Bush is garbage, the whole government is one big joke, there should be a no faith vote for the entire administration. We are just the sheep that carry the country on our backs.

    July 2, 2007 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  24. Ron Thompson,ND

    I remember when all citizens were equal under the laws of the land.Privilege and power will bring you above the law especially if you are a buddy of W.The average Joe would do more time for a lesser crime with no hope of a pardon!

    July 2, 2007 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  25. steve t

    my family fought in the revolutionary war and has served this counrty ever since, i served in the marines, i always thought i would teach my son it was his responsibility to serve if called, this administration in 6 years has brought me to a point where i now question if this is HIS country anymore maybe i should just do what bush and his cronies parents so obviously did, just teach him to look out for himself and his own and screw every one else as arrogantly as you care to, nixon, reagan, and now bush every time you have a republican/rightist/facist christian president in power they simply do whatever they want with no regard for the law, we have not come as far as we think, perhaps its time for another revolution??? democrats may not get much done sometimes but at least they don't blaze down hidden trails like little rich kids waiting for the maid to clean up.... (us)

    July 2, 2007 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
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