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. Chris, Grand Rapids MI

    Only a few weeks ago I can remember the outrage that this country had when it looked like Paris Hilton wasn't going to serve any time for her crimes. I hope that this country feels 10 times the outrage for a man who isn't going to serve a single day for far more serious trangressions. This is not a partisan issue, this is American justice falling on the sword of inequity, and it is disgraceful.

    July 3, 2007 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  2. Steven

    Funny how the Republicans impeached Clinton for lying about a consensual sexual relationship but then they pardon or repreive Republicans who lie about matters of state, Casper Weinberger pardoned by the first Bush and now Scooter Libby pardoned by the second Bush.

    Who would have imagined that Paris Hilton would get more jail time than Libby?

    July 3, 2007 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  3. Simon, San jose CA

    bush does what bush wants. Hes just a couple steps from declaring himself dictator of the United states of Ridiculousness.

    I try to be a proud american, but its hard to do so when our leaders are scum.

    July 3, 2007 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  4. Roland, San Diego, CA

    Welcome to Bush's America. Even Paris Hilton ended up spending her time in jail. It is time for the Democrats to show that they have some cajones and put impeachment back on the table. I want my country back!

    July 3, 2007 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  5. Rob Wilson, Marlborough, MA

    Disgusting! Just when you thought Bush had reached bottom, he finds a new way to jeopardize everything we hold dear.

    July 3, 2007 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  6. Christopher Marks; Cumming, GA

    As usual, I sense the height of hypocrisy in most of the democratic comments regarding Scooter Libby's sentence commutation by President Bush. Where the heck were you when Mr. Clinton pardoned his group of criminals as he left office? Of all people – Hillary ought to bite her tongue!!!

    July 3, 2007 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  7. bill daul, palo alto, ca

    WATCH...the conservatives need to win the next election for the President to pardon the Republican Party uhmmm I mean Cheney and Bush...mark my words...as much as I will be revolted by another conservative President I see no hope for a liberal (even if a liberal today is a right-winger from a few years ago).

    Besides...the so called Democrat seem to overall still answer to the richest supporters...not you and I...Democrats are only weak Republicans.

    July 3, 2007 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  8. Jeb Byers, Durham, NH

    It is unbelievable to me that there are people out there so blindly partisan that they are applauding this. I don’t care how conservative one is- these guys (Libby and his higher-ups)exposed a CIA operative during war time. If Libby had been a Democrat he would have been executed as a traitor. Bush has made our country so fiercely partisan the way he has politicized war and science and everything. Very scary.

    July 3, 2007 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  9. Jamaal F, Los Angeles CA

    Being an American today is like being a Celtics fan<b> no offense to all the great players in Boston, but their was a time when you could truly be proud to be a Celtics fan, you knew that they wouldn't let u down, and that they would give you their best even if they failed. Well today, u may find yourself disappointed to be a Celtics Fan, they have lost their swagger. America is the same way, we used to stand on a moral high ground, and now it is like that image has been shattered by an administration that has taken the law and the constitution into their own hands. I can not sit here and see a young man, Ginardo Wilson, 17 yrs of age, sit in a jail cell for ten years for receiving consensual felatio from a 15 year old girl. While at the same time, a most senior official gets off for revealing the identity of a C.I.A. agent??! That is not only purgery, but it should be regarded as treason. And to here President Bush make it seem like this guy is still being punished. The system is a joke, and the administrations greatest crime is that they have made a mockery of our justice system and the constitution. So todays American can only sit in the stands and not be proud of our team, because we are not the team we once were. I can't help but feeling that it doesn't matter who wins the next election, their is no way they could be worst than the team we have put out right now. Bring home the troops and stop lying to the people, yeah the people, REMEMBER US??? This is our country, not your personal board game!
    Jamaal F
    Proud American

    July 3, 2007 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  10. L Hunt, Seattle, WA

    Look Deeper.

    Although I agree this is a mockery of justice, there's more here than meets the eye. By precedent, Bush normally would have waited until Libby was in jail to commute the sentence. However he chose to look even more foolish right before July 4th.

    The real story is: why was Bush pushed into action? One wonders if Libby knows something which gives him the clout to have his sentence commuted. There's something very unsettling about this turn of events.

    July 3, 2007 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  11. JM, Chicago, IL

    After a lengthy trial, a jury decided that Mr. Libby was guilty of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to investigators. What do Messrs. Bush and Giuliani know that the jury did not?

    July 3, 2007 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  12. Ivan Hunt, North Brunswick, NJ

    A criminal assisting another and giving him a pat in the back. This shows how dangerous a lame duck can be. We are proud of you for showing how low American values can be to the rest of the world. IMPEACH BUSH.

    July 3, 2007 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  13. Bob R., Minneaplis, MN

    Please remind Fred Thompson and the other GOP supporters who voted to impeach Bill Clinton why they did: Obstruction of justice and lying to a grand jury.

    These are the same charges brought against Scotter Libby. Only thing, this bunch of "patriots" think they are above the law.

    Bush didn't even have the courage to make his announcement in a press confrence. He hid behind a press-release and the long holiday weekend. If he has any self-dignity he should resign from office.

    How much more can OUR nation really take of this pathetic, un-american administration? 18 months is much too long.

    July 3, 2007 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  14. David Takoma Park. MD

    Just another case of Bush flouting the law. I wonder if other perjurers and obstructors get off, or is just those who cover up Bush's misdeeds?

    July 3, 2007 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  15. Sheila Covey, Searcy, Arkansas

    I believe the rule of law has left the White House. Our country could once boast of her greatness. Our credibility is gone. Our forefathers would hang their heads in shame. I hang my head in shame. As much as I regret to write it, I believe President Bush and Vice-President Chaney should be impeached. Carl Rove and other cohorts of this administration should also be held accountable for all the corruption that has and is taking place.

    July 3, 2007 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  16. Woodland Hills , CA

    Why no comment from Dennis Kucinich???

    He submitted a bill in Congress to impeach VP Dick Cheney. He is the problem not Scooter!!!

    July 3, 2007 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  17. MJ

    George Bush is a horrible President.

    July 3, 2007 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  18. Shawn Price - Parker, CO

    Sadly enough, the American Public has only itself to blame – yet again – for the status quo. Remember that the authority to commute a sentence as in this case is the executive priviledge of The President. This is the reason why a republic MUST give the utmost caution to who it elects. So if you voted for G. W. Bush in 2000 and/or 2004 (or even if you didn't vote, and let your silence speak for you), then you can consider yourself personally responsible for this administration's ongoing efforts to destroy this countries highest aspirations and good name with impunity.

    Hopefully this will be a clear reminder for all of us to do the right thing next time we're called to vote.

    July 3, 2007 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  19. carlos, charlotte, nc

    Yeah it's a blow to justice, but is anybody really surprised by this. Bush has and will always look out for those who do his bidding regardless of how inept or criminal their actions may be. It's not about what's good for America, it's about what's good for him and his people.

    Seeing that Bush doesn't seem to regard perjury as such a big deal, someone should ask him if he thinks Clinton should have been impeached.

    Republicans were quick to pull the trigger on Clinton, but apparently Libby doesn't deserve the same scrutiny.

    July 3, 2007 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  20. Neil Snyder, Capitola, CA

    My second post. I just read Giuliani's comments. I hope and trust that the American people get to know more of Rudy. The more folks understand how Rudy thinks and acts, the more folks will come to understand why, as mayor of New York, he was a completely incompetent leader.

    It always amazes me how the weakest candidates seem to rise to the top of the political ladder in this country.

    Why did I sit down at the PC tonight...just ruined my evening.

    July 3, 2007 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  21. Anthony O'Bannon, Baltimore, MD

    I hate to bring race into this but... if Scooter Libby was a minority democrat he would have put to death for acts of treason. This administration has used the constitution to defend their actions while they they do every thing in their power to weaken its power. We as americans regardless of political affiliation MUST see this action by the Bush Administration as an outrageous assualt on everything that the founders of this country believed in. I feel that this is one of the last gasps of life for this republic and that justice has reallly become JUST US!

    July 3, 2007 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  22. Jim Anthony, Milliken, CO

    The President today showed the American people that he has no respect for the law. We impeached Richard Nixon for similar actions, tried to impeach Bill Clinton for immoral acts, I say that it's time for the House of Representative to start a Bill of Impeachment against President Bush, if they have the backbone for it.

    July 3, 2007 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  23. Andrew Copnick, Deerfield Beach, FL

    This is American justice? Just goes to show you...one set of rules for wealthy Republicans and another set of rules for rest of us. Oh...how about a ban on watching NBC's "Law and Order"? Fred Thompson calls Scooter a "good American"? Where is the law and order in that?

    July 3, 2007 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  24. G Dog, Madison, WI

    Treason from our President and Vice President should be treated as it was in the past to any Benedict Arnold...Trial, Conviction, Public Hanging.

    July 3, 2007 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  25. Neal Castagnoli, Morgan Hill, CA

    The "Washington responds" section is interesting in that it gives a voice to those who predominately have a political interest in condemnation.

    This section should be balanced by those who are neutral.

    July 3, 2007 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
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