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. Luca Ponti, Barcelona, Spain

    As a follow-up to my last post, perhaps most disturbing to me and everyone that I know here in Barcelona, is why the American people put up with this? Are they so scared of President Bush and his group? It seems to us that America is now governed by dictator, like we once had here. Wake up America. Look how easy it was for the Bush caln to take down your President Clinton for a sexual indiscretion. All the things current President Bush is much much worse! Why have the American people allowed all this evil to continue. We have lost respect for the government, and now we are losing respect for the American people as well. It is very sad. We have no heros anymore.

    July 2, 2007 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  2. John H., Charleston, WV

    Who watches the watchmen? Who monitors the actions of our so-called guardians charged with protecting the liberties of all men and safeguarding the consitutional rights of all citizens?

    GEN MacPeek said it best: "...America has been conducting an experiment for the past six years, trying to validate the proposition that it really doesn't make any difference who you elect president. Now we know the result of that experiment...If a guy is stupid, it makes a big difference.”

    July 2, 2007 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  3. Glenn, Birmingham, Alabama

    George W. Bush:
    Pardons: 113
    Commutations: 4 (including Libby)

    Bill Clinton:
    Pardons: 396
    Commutations: 61
    If these numbers are accurate, Bush is tougher on this issue than Clinton. More reason to vote out both of them & there supporters!!

    July 2, 2007 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  4. Debi, Lincoln, CA

    I am deeply saddened by Bush's decision to pardon jail time for Libby, because it truly shows just how far out Bush will go for his own people, and NOT for the good of the American people. I have felt more and more afraid to speak out with each passing day, because Bush is capable of just about anything. Maybe my phone will be tapped next for MY statement! Heaven knows nothing counts for his croonies! This is just plain a very sad day for America.

    July 2, 2007 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  5. Wynell Jenkins Houston, TX

    Several things have been proven by President Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence, and Dick Chenney's refusal of a federal subponea. First off justice applies to "just us".... John & Jane Q. Public.
    Secondly, our government is not a democracy, but rather a subtle aristocracy with the illusion of freedom. I would encourage all the readers to be put aside their political affiliations and look at the clear cronyism displayed by the Republican Presidential hopefuls, as they all agreed with Bush's decision. I find it amazing how the Republicans tried ti impeach Pres. Clinton for marital infidelity, but support this administration's blatant disregard for the law. We beg your pardon Mr. President, because your decision has left us sore. However, we don't want you to take back the pardon..we'd like you to issue a few more.
    Pardon Jeff Skilling it wasn't fraud it was merely creative redistribution of wealth.
    Pardon those in charge at Walter Reed they were just trying to ease the rising cost of providing care for soldiers health.
    Pardon the D.C Sniper because the government fired him from the only thing they trained him to do.
    Hey while you're at it pardon every child molester and murder too.
    Most importantly pardon us while we get sick....because the pardon you gave this time was not yours to give.

    July 2, 2007 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    As a citizen, I believe that this is irresponsible and just demonstrates how low this administration has sunk.

    Jon Garner

    July 2, 2007 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  7. Howard Sonoda, Amherst, MA

    I don't have a problem with the Scooter Libby commutation. A judge sentenced Libby to jail; a president commuted the sentence. Both had the authority to do what they did. People who have a problem with this should work on changing the authority to commute or pardon. Let's hear the presidential candidates declare that they would never use this authority.

    July 2, 2007 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  8. Frank, Lakeland Florida

    CNN, you are too far to the left...I used to like to read your news articles...now all you do is slant the news in favor of the Democrats. Can you not see that you are breaking all of your rules of journalism? If this had been Bill Clinton commuting one of his staffers from prison I am sure that Mrs. Clinton would have said just the opposite. Please beware of the Americans who have a brain and an education because we are the ones that put Bush in power, not that it was a good thing, but if we decide to get out and vote again it will be for the lesser of (2) evils. The Republicans know this, and unfortunately you and the Democrats have failed to recognize that we the people are not as mindless as you think we are. The Americans I know whole hearted believe that if the Democrats get back into power they will turn our country into a socialist waste land.

    July 2, 2007 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  9. Michael St Louis,MO

    How can this administration send anyone to prison? Sadam's bag men are being hung for following their leader, yet the Scooter gets to take a walk. Greed and corruption is the rule of law for this White House!!!!

    July 2, 2007 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  10. Ray Brown, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

    As a Canadian, I can only look on with wonder at an administration that imprisons people with a contrived label such as "enemy combatant" and holds them for years without charges or due process while simultaneously abusing executive privilege, allowing one of their own to escape the consequences of criminal behaviour set down by the courts.

    July 2, 2007 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  11. Andy Peake

    George Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove are the domestic "Axis of Evil". Playground bullies who use the shroud of "patriotism" to justify their illegal power plays. Bullies at the ballot box. Bullies in international affairs. Bullies in the legal system.

    Ever since the phrase "pre-emptive strikes" was substituted for "invasion" I have been totally convinced that the egos of these men are dangerous to the entire world. Power and aggressiveness at home breed hatred and aggressiveness overseas. Now, what a disgrace this "Scooter-gate" has become. I am totally in favor of George W. Bush's impeachment.

    July 2, 2007 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  12. David Williamson Orlando, Florida

    I'm not a George Bush fan but we have to be realalistic. The only President with less commuted sentences in the last 60 years was George Bush Senior. It amazes me to read Hilary Clinton say "George Bush thinks he is above the law by interfering with a courts decision". Hey Hilary!! George Bush has commuted 4 sentences in 7 years! Your husband commuted 61 sentences in 8 years. (WOW) Guess he was kinda "above the law" too. Bill was a lot easier on the ears though!! Got to give credit where credit is due.

    July 2, 2007 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  13. Betty, Southlake, TX

    When will the American public say "enough" and demand this man (and his cronies, including the VP) be impeached? This is the most corrupt administraton to ever occupy the White House. Not only are they corrupt and an embarrassment to the United States, they have done so much damage to our country's reputation & world standing that our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren will be dealing with the fallout for generations to come. I say Impeach Bush & Impeach Cheney now!!

    July 2, 2007 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  14. kai, NY, NY

    It is time to send a signal. No man is above the law. Bush has broken enough of our laws. Its time for Impeachment.

    July 2, 2007 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  15. Dave Rahinsky, Spring Hill, Yn.

    President Bush showed total disregard for the balance of power between the executive and judicial branches of our government. This disgraceful action demonstrates contempt for law enforcement. What a shame that America has had to withstand two terms of this administration, Bush’s historically low approval ratings are reflective of an emerging awareness of what an abomination this administration has been.

    Dave Rahinsky

    July 2, 2007 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  16. Cliff Dillmann

    Nothing reveals the flaws in our failed system more than the ability to commute the sentence for of one who for political reasons defied the law. This is not Republican or Democatic but the rule of a oligarchy independent of law or ethics. Cliff Dillmann, Harrisburg, PA

    July 2, 2007 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  17. RC, Chicago, Ill

    Where are all of the Republicans howling about Bush commuting Libby. You sure heard them during Clinton's term. I guess when the shoes on the other foot its easier to look the other way. bush should be IMPEACHED!

    July 2, 2007 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  18. Young, Chicago, IL

    Is it a democracy and dictatorship? It is clear that Bush will protect his people in every mean. What is a shame?

    July 2, 2007 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  19. West Hollywood, CA

    It seems each day the President does something else which embarrasses me as an American citizen. The pardon of Mr. Libby tells our children that its Ok to lie, as long as you have powerful friends who will protect you. Shameful.

    No doubt Mr Bush will go down in history as the worst president our country has known.

    July 2, 2007 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  20. Brian, Anchorage, Alaska

    It's insane how much we let Bush get away with. I know its his right to commute sentences but once again he spits his presidential privileges in America's face.

    July 2, 2007 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  21. Jerry Manahan Bloomington, IL

    Now one of Cheney's other cronies will pay (donate) the $250,000 fine and Scooter will scoot off to wait for a last minute presidential pardon so he can draw his government pension.

    July 2, 2007 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  22. Glenn Harris, Hood River, Oregon

    I'll say one thing for Bush: the man is incredibly consistent. If there's a wrong decision available to be made, he'll make it.

    July 2, 2007 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  23. Phil, Cleveland Ohio

    All of the comments I have read by politicians are clearly partisan, its business as usual, all talk, no action, no one held accountable for their crimes or actions. I truly feel as though the 15 years I spent as a Marine serving this country was for naught.

    July 2, 2007 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  24. Al, Minden, NV

    I find it very strange that the Dems. are so outraged. I remember that when Ex President Bill Clinton lied to federal agents and also to a grand jury, these same Dems. Thought that it was OK.

    July 2, 2007 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  25. corwin kelderman marshalltown, iowa

    If an ordinary citizen were charged with such a crime, who deserved 30 months in prision, where do you think he would be. Two systems of justice is not allowed in this countrys constitution. Like the goverment of the USA and common folk. I thought.

    July 2, 2007 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
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