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. Jeff, Denver CO

    The commutition of Libby's sentence does not bother me on the face of it. It's a valid exercise of executive power with a long history. However, this President has a long history of not being merciful at all in death penalty and life sentence criminal cases, in which the accused , unlike Libby, have actually shown remorse. This selective "mercy" is a further example of how this President believes that his adminstration is above the law. Further, to commute Libby's time while his appeals are still pending is a violation of DOJ proceedure.

    July 3, 2007 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  2. Jeff Schade; Palatine, IL

    This should come as no surprise to anyone. "Scooter" was the fall guy for the administration in this event. He handled it as a good fall guy would, and as expected, he is being taken care of by those he protected. Anyone who has seen the last several decades of our nation's politics would know it would have been the same whether it was a Republican or Democrat.

    It sadly should also come as no surprise that Neocon supporters would start screaming "Clinton" when this story broke. Criticizing this action is not about Election '08, its about this situation. No patriotic American, regardless of party affiliation should condone this type of behavior, and news stories from 10 years ago really have very little bearing on the present.

    July 3, 2007 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  3. Antonin, Columbus, Ohio

    An absolute disgrace. The correct decision, Mr. Thompson and Guiliani? Does it even occur to these people why their party is not even in control of Congress anymore? I'm almost to the point these people would rationalize anything in the name of ideology. Perversion of justice in the name of principle.

    July 3, 2007 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  4. Mitch Schapira

    Question for Rudy Giuliani: If you are elected to the presidency, will you use your presidential powers to commute or pardon Bernie Kerick?

    July 3, 2007 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  5. Arthur C, Monterey, CA

    The commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence breaks all bounds of a President's responsibilities to the American people. While Presidents have the power to pardon/commute, that power should be used judiciously and with discretion. This case shows neither – only that the President cares nothing for the rule of law or the sensibilities of the American people, who value fairness and openness above all other things.

    July 3, 2007 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  6. Moesie from Boston, MA

    As the Independence Day Holiday sits on
    the morrow...it is time to distance ourselves from this present Administration. They are wrong and they know it. They needed to neutralize Scooter as he may well be called before Congress to testify. Now he can continue to lie and not be held accountable...they can also immunize him and he can actually tell the truth.
    It is time for Bush and Cheney to resign as the country will not be able to function with the fact that the President and VP do not obey the laws and think they are to be broken!!! They do not accept a guilty verdict and a juries time and energy to make such a decision. The honest judge made the correct decision to give the sentence that was provided for the crime. Never forget that Libbey LIED to the Grand Jury and LIED to the FBI. A Crime..by all standards yes!! The President in name only didn't like it so he commuted the jail time...but he left the probation and fine!! Big Deal!! Do you realize how much money was raised for his defence fund?? MILLIONS!!!! If it was you or me, we would be rotting away. The half million dollar fine will be paid from the defence fund...some went to pay the lawyers who put on a very weak case....hence the denial by the appeals court!!

    So fellow American's...do you want to be ruled (that's a joke!) by two men that think that lying is ok. Overturning the Juries conviction is ok??? WRONG! The Constitution says we are a lawful people....we are suppose to live by our laws...but now in 2007 we are ignoring the Constitution that was signed in 1776...and it has kept us afloat until now. This administration is the most corrupt and most secret in many years. We need to let them know we will not accept this type of government. Let them know....call the White House and your Senators and Representatives tomorrow...leave word how you feel. Tell them it is time for Bush and Cheney to resign. We need a free and open government..now what is in DC now.

    Thank you and let's hope the real old American feeling of Independence comes through...we fought hard and long to get it...and it should not be thrown away by the likes of those in DC.


    July 3, 2007 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  7. Peter, Charlotte, North Carolina

    Disgraceful. Once again this administration sneers that the law and does what it wants, but do you see the democrats doing anything about it except talking?

    Time for some house cleaning folks, stop voting for politicians that take corporate campaign donations, encourage others to do the same. As long as they are all bought and paid for by the same people thing will change.

    July 3, 2007 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  8. Johnny Moore Hawthorne - CA

    "Scooter scoots"

    Just another example of the decision-making this administration continues to force down our throats. Once again, they're flipping us, the so-called, "Fellow Americans," the bird(not the bald eagle, that's for sure). What's disturbing is that this administration gives the impression of "circling the wagons," demonstrating their utter disregard for what's good for the country, all the while only helping themselves. And with their history of "Circle the Wagon" decisions, from "WMD's" to Gonzales and Dick "Haliburton" Cheney, 2008 could'nt get here fast enough if it flew in on the Space Shuttle. Forget what's written on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, etc... Their version of what's right is written in pencil, in case there's need to change certain definitions of what's right and wrong at any given time to assure they LOOK presidential, but ultimately, it's only their "protect what's mine" mentality that's glaring. Mission Accomplished? I'm sure Scooter thinks so.

    July 3, 2007 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  9. Manatee

    Time for impeachment proceedings to begin before the president destroys the country.

    July 3, 2007 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  10. Jay, Dallas, Texas

    What a sampling....all democrats except for 3? Not to mention the former president lied under oath and only received a censure, and his deputy, Sandy Berger, removed classified documents pre-9/11 Hearings and received no jail time. I wonder why context is so important in Journalism.

    July 3, 2007 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  11. Susan, Holyoke, Colorado

    Go figure. Libby gets off the hook, what an outrage! It's a wonder President Bush didn't pardon Paris Hilton. This is just another blundered decision George has made. He'll be our worst President in the history of the United States. What a mess!

    July 3, 2007 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  12. jay, Morristown, NJ

    I just can't believe it. I have lost what little faith I had left in our justice system, and what it stands for. In plain view for everyone to see, our president has shamed not only himself, but all the men and woman serving this country without question. This President and this administration feel they are above the law and that the men and woman of this country are expendable pawns and puppets to be used and abused on a whim. I prey to God that we can dig ourselves out of this disgusting hole they put us in, but a part of me deep down feels the damage is irreversible, at least in our lifetime. It's a sad day for America.

    July 3, 2007 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  13. J. Sessler, San Bernadino, CA

    It seems obvious that Mr. Libby has the goods and was threatening to spill the beans if he went to jail. The administraation caved. Typical.

    It's time for serious hearings regarding impeachment and a formal charge of Mr. Libby for treason.

    July 3, 2007 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  14. Rebecca Jurgerson Manteno Illinois

    I shudder to think that we have 18 more months of these thugs in this administration. What possibly can they do to the undermining of this country next? They believe they are above the law and sadly they are getting away with it.

    July 3, 2007 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  15. John Las Vegs

    You should see what people are saying in the L.A. times blog. Where is the apology to Valerie Plame?
    This is a Fascist administration with contempt for the law. The President and Vice President should be impeached by Congress.

    July 3, 2007 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  16. Wiley, Corona del Mar, CA

    “After evaluating the facts, the President came to a reasonable decision and I believe the decision was correct.”

    Wait a minute, I thought evaluating the facts and coming to a reasonable decision in criminal cases was the job of the jury and the judge? Giuliani, as a former prosecutor, you of all people should respect that.

    Bush has proven woefully incompetent even in his own presidential duties. He hardly has the credentials to be meddling in the judiciary, despite the fact that his office grants him the pardon power.

    He apparently feels it incumbent upon himself to exit office with no power left un-abused.

    July 3, 2007 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  17. Claudia Pontual, Phoenix, AZ

    Why can't we impeach him? This is truly ridiculous. Talk about cover up, and not even a stained dress, just a stained presidency. Shame on you Mr. President, shame on us all that let this happen.

    July 3, 2007 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  18. Anonymous

    One again, this president is sadly and unmistakably laughable. But, not in a good way! Truly, Mr. Bush neither disappoints nor does he surprise me. To be disappointed in him, his policies, and the mis-guided belief that he and his administration are ABOVE THE LAW, would imply that for starters, I had FAITH that he does have the common, God-Given sense to so the RIGHT THING! But, as has been demonstrated over and again during the past 6 years of his administration, many things, including “COMMON SENSE” are truly in short supply. Unfortunately, the millions of nameless and faceless American like me will continue to pay the PRICE…of this VERY ARROGANT and MIS-GUIDED Administration! Perhaps, we should direct our comments and questions to the 51.2% of the country who put them in POWER in the first place!

    July 3, 2007 01:24 am at 1:24 am |


    July 3, 2007 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  20. Ben Cooley, Claremont, CA

    All this commutation demonstrates is that having friends in high places gives one the freedom to break the law, knowing that he will not have to face the consequences. Any bets on whether or not there will be a full pardon before Dubya leaves office?

    July 3, 2007 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  21. Jon, Honeoye Falls NY

    Another miserable American newsday. The president can do whatever he wants now...70 percent of America disagrees...but it doesn't matter. What ever happened to majority rules? Nevermind, that's what the terrorists want.

    July 3, 2007 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  22. Cindy, Severn, Maryland

    It's amazing to me that 80% of the American people do not agree with Bush's decision on letting Libby off the hook. Bush probably had a hard time sleeping at night knowing Libby was simply the fall guy for a much bigger crime. I think leaking names that could actually comprimise the security of the United States and the lives of the people who are sworn to protect the United States should be punishable by hanging...not firing. Shame on you Mr. President.

    July 3, 2007 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  23. cheri rozman Marquette, Michigan

    This administration is so corrupt that it makes it's own laws, tries to change our forefather's Constitution to its liking, protect its fellow buddies & forget about its people. They just plan what they want like making up lies, taking down Husseum then getting in fights with all the factions of people over there, killing our young men & women but do you see any of their relatives over there? Has Bush visited over there? Then they forget our people & leave them to die for days in New Orleans, Louisiana,& other fellowing states & Bush makes ho many trips to these states & they still don't have homes but yet there are hundreds & hundreds of empty rutting trailers sitting empty (like his head).Our vice president can go on a hunting trip & shoot a friend & not pay a fine or anything. Our attorney general & his buddies including Carl Rove, Dick Cheney & probably Bush can decide to fire attorneys because they are doing their jobs unlike most of the government but they don't do it the crooked way like them. I could go on & on but why waste my time? I just pray that our people have opened their eyes to what has happened to our government in the last 6 years.We're sliding down hill & fast. We at one time were the Number ONE power in the world & had the utmost respect & countries were afraid to mess with us but sadly that is NO MORE & this administration is the reason. I wish someone would suggest again to impeach Bush even if he runs out of time in the White House. He at least would go down in the books as the worst president the United States has ever had. But that's right, he'll go down that way without immpeaching him. "The brainless decider". And Pres Bush where's that younger brother who milked millions & millions & millions of dollars out of people in his little bank scam??? Did he drop off the face of the earht??? Just wonderin!!!

    July 3, 2007 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  24. Gilbert Hofmeister-American Falls, Idaho

    President Bush has given Congress one more reason why he and Cheney should be impeached. How many more lies do we have to hear from this administration?

    July 3, 2007 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  25. Don Pickens

    This is a terrible blow to American justice. First the leaking of the CIA Agent's name for political retribution. The politicizing of the US Attorneys. Ignoring subpoenas. Manipulating intelligence to have a pretext to go to war. Have we forgotten Abramhoff buying favors? AG Gonzales can't seem to remember a thing. Now this. What's next? How much will we stand for? When will people wake up? America is falling apart.

    July 3, 2007 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
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