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. Ron H. Indianapolis, IN

    Scooter needs to be a man like Paris Hilton and serve his time.

    Besides, any grown man who goes by the name of Scooter should be doing hard time.

    July 2, 2007 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  2. DeLinda, Houston, Texas

    I am so discouraged. Constantly disappointed with this administration and the entire government as a whole. If ever there was a time for a third party to move in! And, I agree that an impeachment process should be on the table for the president and vice-president.

    July 2, 2007 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  3. Leslie Ventsch, Chicago, IL

    I see that all critical comments quoted are by Democrats, whereas the Republicans quoted are quite positive about the whole issue. Don't the Republicans have any connection to reality or justice left?

    July 2, 2007 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  4. Susan, Green Bay, WI

    Might it be, that with as much information as "S" may have had about others that did not get indicted it was either free me or I will squeal like a stuck pig and write a riveting book?

    July 2, 2007 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  5. Gil, Belton, TX

    one word – IMPEACHMENT

    July 2, 2007 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  6. Ron H. Indianapolis, IN

    Even as a Republican, I am growing tired of this administration's lack of respect for the law. At first when the President ignored the law I would get angry. Now I feel uneasy and nervous. Nervous that if real pressure were put on him he may just lock the White House door.

    July 2, 2007 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  7. P Williams, Plainfield, CT

    This is the same president, that when governor, simply refused to commute anyone's death sentence in his state no matter what the circumstances. As he said when he was governor, we have a good justice system and we should let it work.

    Obviously this does not apply to him and his friends. It is time to impeach someone who lies to us and does feel justice is equal for everyone under the eyes of the law.

    He needs to go before anymore persons lives are ruined.

    July 2, 2007 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  8. Ray, Plato, MO

    How much longer are we stuck with King George and his band of incompetents? This shows you what they think of the rule of law.

    July 2, 2007 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  9. Janice Luscher

    Now we know why VP Cheney always has a smirk on his face....the laws mean nothing!

    July 2, 2007 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  10. David Williamson Orlando, Florida

    Scooter was and is a political scapegoat. Every republican interviewd agreed with the Presidents decision and every Democrat had a smooth prepaired answer as to how unjust George Bushes actions are. I am like 30,000,000 other moderate Americans who frankly don't care and understand that a Democrat president would have done exactly the same thing in a similar situation. Wouldn't it be refreshing to have someone running for office who isn't a puppet for his/her party. Where are you Ross Perot!!!

    July 2, 2007 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  11. dave dulles VA

    Dr Ron Paul keeps saying that these are the things we can expect when WE ALLOW OFFICIALS to disregard the US CONSTITUTION that was put in place for exactly this same reason. The founders used to take people like this out to the highest tree in town....get my meaning?? It is time to wake up from your slumber, take off you God damned ipod and hit the streets before it is too late for your kids!!!!

    July 2, 2007 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  12. Bill Mitchell

    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.”

    Here's a short list of some of the REAL CRIMINALS Bill Clinton pardoned while in office:

    Kristine Margo Beck D. Idaho 1981 Bank embezzlement, 18 U.S.C. § 656
    David Christopher Billmaier D. New Mex. 1980 Possession with intent to distribute amphetamines, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)
    Terry Lee Brown E. D. Ky. 1962 Interstate transportation of a stolen motor vehicle, 18 U.S.C. § 2312
    Joe Carl Bruton N. D. Tex. 1979 Conspiracy to commit mail fraud, 18 U.S.C. § 371
    Nolan Lynn DeMarce W. D. Wis. 1983 Making false statements to obtain bank loans, 18 U.S.C. § 1014
    Jimmy C. Dick N. D. Calif. 1976 Conspiracy to manufacture counterfeit Federal Reserve Notes, 18 U.S.C. § 371
    Edward Eugene Dishman W. D. Okla. 1983 Conspiracy to defraud the United States and Oklahoma counties, 18 U.S.C. § 371
    Brenda Kay Engle S. D. Ind. 1983 Conspiracy to commit theft from interstate shipment, 18 U.S.C. § 371
    Mary Theresa Fajer D. Oregon 1980 Conspiracy to commit bank embezzlement, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2 and 371
    Albert James Forte D. Dist. Col. 1973 Making and subscribing false and fraudulent income tax return, 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1)
    Fendley Lee Frazier S. D. Ala. 1965 Interstate transportation of a stolen motor vehicle, 18 U.S.C. § 2312
    Robert Linward Freeland, Jr. N. D. Ind. 1983 Forcible rescue of seized property, 26 U.S.C. § 7212(b)
    Ralph Leon Furst S. D. Calif. 1966 Embezzlement of United States mail (U.S. Code section not cited)

    July 2, 2007 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  13. Jim Melton, Fountain In, SC

    This just goes to show where todays REPUBLICAN Party values really are.

    Laws are only important if they apply to someone else.

    Welcome to the Republican party's Fascist States of Amerika.

    July 2, 2007 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  14. W. Craig, Orrville, Ohio

    The FBI, CIA and other intelligence agencies supplied poor intelligence (lies), and now the country is involved in a misguided war. Not one person was reprimanded for this poor effort although over 3500 soldiers have lost their lives and over 10,000 severely injured!

    This entire administration is destroying our country with lies, deception, theft and murder just to say the least!

    When will our Congress/House proceed with the impeachment of this criminal who is breaking so many laws!

    July 2, 2007 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  15. JIm O'Fallon, Il

    typical CNN– have mostly D comments– how many pardons did Clinton give?? Too hard to print those numbers..... where is that story?? CNN once again, fair and balanced

    July 2, 2007 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  16. C. Classen, Minneapolis, Minnesota

    I have foolishly been clinging to the hope that this Administration would go no farther beyond the edge of reason, but the President's commutation of Mr. Libby's sentence has brought me to a new level of despair. My grandchildren (none born yet) will pay (literally and figuratively) for the terrible actions of this President and his mis-Adminisration.

    July 2, 2007 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  17. Anon, NYC, NY

    Disregard political gains and what not, but evaluate the more important picture. The sons and daughters of America were sent under covert operations in harms way to protect this country, yet there exists a government that condones betrayal to them. A slap on the hand, I guess, is suitable for this situation, but what if leaking out intelligence resulted in the lost of a life? Accessory to murder maybe? But in this case, it was attempted murder. Is it safe to work for our government now?

    July 2, 2007 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  18. allen smith, scranton, pa

    Interesting that CNN would post comments from 9 democrats (assuming Melanie Sloan is a Democrat) but only 2 Republicans. Just confirms my suspicion that CNN is biased fairly heavily for the Democrats.

    July 2, 2007 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  19. Ken Fries, Amherst, New York

    I commend the President on his decision. The prison sentence was not the correct punishment, and it did not suit the crime. For all those turning this into a partisan issue, let's recall those extremely questionable pardons by Pres. Clinton to those less than reputable staff members and personal acquaintances back in 1990.

    July 2, 2007 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  20. Joe Black San Jose, Ca.

    I think Bush has been lieing to the people of the US ever sense he was put in office, and by what he did today show he has something to hide and how about those papers he is not going to turn over to the courts. Open your eyes people and use the brain God gave you. He is accountable for breaking the law just like us poor people are. Bush has this country so up side downA its going to take years to put in back in some kind of order. Its time the people who run this government should get off their ass's and do something about this mess! And lets don't forget about all of our guys over there in that waste of time war who have died. FOR WHAT!

    July 2, 2007 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  21. Jack Mansur Webster, New York

    Please allow me to extend my condolences to my Republican friends who have stood so firmly behind this president these past several years. I realize how painful it must be for you to approbate this president's public statements such as, "I feel his (Libby's) sentence was too severe". He is not willing to accept the ruling of a court of his own appointees. This court which determined not once but twice, after hearing days and days of extensive testimony and arguements from all sides. This court which made their judgement after careful and thorough deliberation. This same court which after hearing all of this testimony determined that their jail sentence for Libby was just and fair. Why did this president commute Libby's sentence? Was it because of his arrogance and he could (or perhaps because he lives in fear of potential reprisal from his vice president?) Jack Mansur

    July 2, 2007 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  22. Joseph, Atlanta, GA

    Once again, terrific job of keeping reporting unbiased and keeping the editorial undertones at bay. Number of lines of text from non-Democrats: 6, lines from Democrats: more than worth counting.

    For the record, I don't agree with the President's decision either.

    July 2, 2007 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  23. Kevin Gardner South Portland, Maine

    Everyone with a conscience should make good note of the comment of Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani and the rest. The idea that overturning a lawful verdict for political gain and finding that to be good shows the true character of a person. It's time like these when people of true moral values come to the fore, and the phony conservative elite are show for what they truly are. These are exactly the kinds of things you need to remember when you enter a voting booth and why both Thompson and Giuliani, like Bush himself, aren't worthy to hold the office of President of the United States.

    July 2, 2007 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  24. Student, Atlanta GA

    I am ashamed of our President and the actions he took to ignore the Justice that Lewis Libby deserved. I certainly do not care about how Libby's family "feels", what about the other family? His actions were WRONG, if any ordinary civilian took the actions he did they would be sentence to 10 years or more. I do not care about Democrats or Republicans it is about the FREEDOM of SPEECH that we are slowly losing.....and the chances to punish those who are above themselves, with GREED, and DISHONESTY.

    July 2, 2007 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  25. Luca Ponti, Barcelona, Spain

    OK. Why am I not surprised. This is just the first step. If President Bush was really concerned about justice AND the fairness of Libby's jail term, why then not shorten the amount of time to be served in jail? No, President Bush vacates the entire sentence. Also, who says it is over. Remember that President Bush can (and probably will) pardon Libby as a parting shot when he finally leaves office. So don't praise President Bush for being fair. What about the life of the person...and her family...that this administration, and Libby in particular, has forever harmed?

    July 2, 2007 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
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