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. Mary Jones, Amarillo, TX

    I would have pardoned Libby altogether. He did nothing more or less that Bill Clinton in terms of obstructing justice, and Clinton is walking around almost free (still has Hillary around his neck).

    July 2, 2007 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  2. Chris Moller, Cary NC

    Mr Bush's tacit exoneration of Mr Libby could, perhaps, be justified if Mr Bush himself were to serve that 30-month sentence. After all, it does seem at least possible, if not likely, that Mr Bush was aware before, during, and after Mr Libby broke the law on his behalf, and possible, if not likely, at his behest.

    July 2, 2007 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  3. Tony,Sycamore, IL

    Yeah what Bob said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 2, 2007 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  4. G-Dawg, Atlanta, GA

    I love how liberals are crying the blues. Funny how libs forgot about the pardons of Bill Clinton. Here are several links concerning who Bill Clinton pardoned.



    The botton line is that liberals can't do a damn thing about it and that is funny.

    July 2, 2007 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  5. Chris Portland, Maine

    Not the least surprised. The puppet has had his strings pulled again. The Dixie Chicks were right about this pathetic, corrupt bunch of criminals.

    July 2, 2007 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  6. Lynn Schack, Sacramento, CA

    Blah blah blah! All the presidential hopefuls jump on the band wagon screaming injustice but talk is cheap! We have a president who thinks he is above the law, that criminals do not need to pay for their crimes if they are his friends, that poor decisions and actions have no personal consequences, and that the American people are supposed to sit down, shut up, and put up with it.

    When are we going to show the world that WE, American CITIZENS, will NOT tolerate such abuses of power! That this is a democracy and Bush is NOT our dictator! He is a traitor to everything we hold dear!

    We need action from our senators and congressmen to stop this TRAITOR!

    July 2, 2007 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  7. Rick Graves, Wilmington North Carolina

    Shame on you Mr. President. If the federal sentencing guidelines and the self-righteous windbags at the Justice Department are not capable of despensing fair and equitable justice, then your commutation pen should stay well-used. Alas, I fear that will not be the case. You have damaged justice at its very core with the culture of arrogance at Justice and you have now made it a public mockery.

    July 2, 2007 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  8. Tim McKay, Santa Cruz, CA

    Is anyone surprised at our President's actions to defend and to support his agenda by commuting all of Libby's jail time? I do not think so. So, you might want to ask yourself this question: Is this how justice works in America? Is justice served for everyone when President Bush flouts his executive powers to favor his convicted criminal allies? I think when justice swerves off course like this, it is not just, it is not right and it is not good for our country or the world.

    July 2, 2007 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  9. V. Grandetta, Portland, Or.

    Can we please get some decency and sanity back into our country. I plead with all our legislators/senators to model the restoration of decency, common sense, fair play and healthy debate in lieu of adversarial, irrational disputes and accusatory mentality that is prevailing not only this country but the world. If we want to remain a serious world power of ethics and morality....we must MODEL IT!!!. Give us something to believe in again.

    July 2, 2007 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  10. AJ, Chicago

    The first comment has me confused. The president didn't pardon or commute a sentence for RICHARD ARMITAGE, who has admitted and has been acknowledged by Novak to have been the source for the so-called "leak." Scooter Libby wasn't even ACCUSED of being the leak–he was accused of a process crime in the ensuing investigation of the so-called leak. So how does commuting his sentence even fall into the category of people the president was describing?

    July 2, 2007 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  11. Tom Fitzsimmons Santa Rosa, CA

    It seems very clear that the rules are off. This is a very scary situation all around and it is obvious to me that the first thing we need to do is impeach Cheney.
    Call the White House switchboard (202-456-1414) tomorrow to demand he resign. Call your Senators and Representatives and urge that articles of impeachment against the Vice President be brought to the floor of the congress NOW. Long live the United States of America!

    July 2, 2007 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  12. Jon Thomas, Christiansburg VA

    This is just another perfect example of what a scum bag we have for a president. As long as you do his bidding you will be relieved of all legal responsibility. This man is destroying our country I only hope that he does not finish the job before November of next year.

    July 2, 2007 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  13. Townley McGiffert

    Coming Soon: 'CIA Stories With Scooter Libby' airing on Faux News right after 'War Stories With Oliver North.'

    July 2, 2007 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  14. Bill P, Windsor, Maine

    On the eve of our nation's most patriotic day...I am absolutely ashamed to be an American! How did we get this low? How on Earth will we get ourselves out of this death spiral. Who is John Galt?

    July 2, 2007 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  15. steve, Pittsburgh, PA

    It is hard to believe the damage this administration has done to our country. This should result in W's impeachment. He is an embarrasment and the worst President ever. Hey CNN, can you ask W about this? This is a complete disgrace. We do not elect kings in our country. Bush has no shame. He is a complete joke. If we elect any Republicans in the next ten years we should all be ashamed. Funny how the terror alert is elevated again. Are we all that stupid?

    July 2, 2007 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  16. Paul, Brookline, MA

    An employee of the White House leaks the identity of a covert CIA agent working on nuclear proliferation. When he is tried and convicted, the President pardons him. Very simple, our President has committed a grave act, excusing the treasonous acts of one of his employees. Impeach him now!

    July 2, 2007 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  17. Laura, Long Island NY

    Honestly, Im so disgusted its difficult to put my thoughts into words.....and certainly not without using profanity. I do not understand how President Bush can view this as a moral decision. No one is above the law and those in positions of leadership/authority should be leading by example. Scooter Libby is supposed to be serving the American people and our great nation. Instead, he chose to jeapordize our National Security and the life of one of our citizens all because the Whitehouse was being criticized. Last time I checked, freedom of speach was still a guranteed right. Outing a CIA officer on the other hand, a crime against our nation. How can we expect the everyday citizens to respect and obey the laws when our highest officials do not. And whats more, this sends a message that it is not only ok to break the law but that there are not appropriate consequences to one's actions. God bless you Mr. Bush, youre going to need it come judgement day.

    July 2, 2007 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  18. Toni L, Brooklyn, New York

    I have jury duty this week, my question is, WHY BOTHER?

    July 2, 2007 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  19. Allie alexandria va

    While many americans go through the beaurocracy of attempting to free innocent people, here we have the guilty go free.
    As long as the bushmeister is in office, we will continue to see these atrocities.
    It is beyond me why every american has not shown up in washington, to demand this man be removed from office.
    Our soldiers suffer with no follow up care in Iraq, his cronies get off sky high and he and good ole' Dick fatten their pockets. It will take us decades to come out from under this sicko's regime.

    July 2, 2007 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  20. Steve, Phoenix AZ

    I became completely disgusted with this administration's conduct early into its first term. Why the people voted it in for a second is still beyond my comprehension. This sentence commutation is just one of a long series of misdeeds by the president and his administration illustrative of its elitist mentality. Hopefully the Republicans will pay dearly in the next election even though they appear to be above the law.

    July 2, 2007 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  21. Nicole, Jersey City, NJ

    Isn't it ridiculous that even in the year 2007, with all news organizations having web sites, podcasts, and the onslaught of YouTube viral news feeds, the U.S. government can STILL blatantly disregard the laws it protects? But of course, only for those who are already priveledged to begin with.

    And despite the fact that the majority of the public will clearly make their opinion known, the "democratically elected" government will disregard the people's will without so much as an explanation?

    July 2, 2007 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  22. AJ, Chicago

    I don't think any of the people whose "reactions" were listed could even say what crimes Scooter Libby was accused of, what he was convicted of, and what actions of Libby's underlay the accusations. Their comments uniformly make that ignorance clear.

    July 2, 2007 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  23. Cy Birr, Little Rock, AR

    Would you please clarify if the Republican minority did not comment or CNN did not report their comments. Either this is an editorial slant that is disappointing or further evidence of Republican culpability.

    July 2, 2007 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  24. R. Moore Canada

    As a non-American I chuckle when the US talks about exporting its values around the world – you know democracy and all, or something like that.

    Do Americans have the feeling the world is watching them emplode?

    July 2, 2007 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  25. M Frost, Atlanta, GA

    As despicable as this is, does anyone remember how many criminals Clinton pardoned just before he left office? Just business as usual in Washington. Actions such as these were despicable then and are now. Why are all the reactions just from "politicos" from whom one would expect and "outraged" reaction? Why no conservative reaction? Maybe no conservative wonk is stupid enough to react? Or just the same one-sided reporting we've come to expect from CNN? Boy, I can't wait for the Fairness Doctrine!

    July 2, 2007 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
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