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. Jacob Zoppel

    I am sure the Democrats quoted in this blog were as disgusted with Clinton's pardons as he left the Whitehouse. The hypocrisy is getting to be very irritating. At least both sides of the aisle should remain intellectually honest and consistent.

    July 2, 2007 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  2. Marilyn Lehning

    This trial was a farce to get anyone in the administration, they really wanted Karl Rove, I thank God the President did this.

    July 2, 2007 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  3. D McDonald Vancouver Canada

    What do members of the CIA have to say about the commutation of the sentence of the man who endangered one of thier own, a dedicated patriotic agent?

    Nice one Bush- no loyalty to anyone but your buddies...

    July 2, 2007 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  4. Chris, Buffalo NY

    Although I do not agree in any way with what President Bush has done regarding Scooter Libby's sentence, I can't help but wonder how congressmen that sit more to the right feel. I respect all the men and women quoted in this article, but it seems a little biased with no Republican or Independent voices!!

    July 2, 2007 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  5. Robert Bateman, Weaverville, CA

    Why do I get the impression that he wants to be impeached?

    July 2, 2007 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  6. Chris, Edgewater, NJ

    Washington responds? A better title for this page would be "Democrats Whine".

    July 2, 2007 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Quite a Record to be proud of ???
    – Was a playboy drunk
    – Avoided Vietnam
    – Did not fulfill his commitments in the Air National Guard.
    – Did not file SEC reports for Harken
    Oil, and cashed out just before company
    – Fixed a presidential election against the will of the American people.
    – Lied to his countrymen about WMD.
    – Started an unjust war
    – Is directly responsible for the deaths of over 3600 of our service people.
    – Is directly responsible for the maiming of over 25,000 service personnel.
    – Is directly responsible for the deaths of thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqi people.
    – Oversees and condones torture.
    – Continues to trample on the US Constitution.


    July 2, 2007 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  8. Ian, Carrollton, TX

    How many of these Democrats arguing that actions should have consequences supported President Clinton getting away with perjury, sexual harassment and rape? Or how about Hillary Clinton stealing classified FBI files on Republican opponents? Or Sandy Berger stealing classified material from the National Archives? Or the Clintons stealing furniture from the White House?

    Another thing, the real person leaking info in this case was an opponent of the war in Iraq, Dick Armitage. If the Democrats are really concerned with national security why aren't they calling for him to be prosecuted? Another Democrat hypocrisy exposed.

    July 2, 2007 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  9. Andrew Castillo Rosenberg Texas

    Impeach! Impeach! Impeach!!!

    July 2, 2007 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  10. Zeke, Somewhere, PA

    Anyone want to take odds on how long until Libby is pulling down 250k/year at some conservative think tank?

    July 2, 2007 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  11. B. Silverstein, Asheville, NC

    Where is the outrage? Clinton gets impeached for a sexual misdemeanor. Nixon resigns for a petty crime. Yet Bush commutes the sentence of a convicted liar and Cheney disregards the law. The American people should be outraged at the illegal and immoral actions of these people. Shame on our legislative branch for not acting in the best interests of the American people and censuring the criminal acts of the Bush-Cheney Administration.

    July 2, 2007 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  12. Joe, Winston Salem, NC

    Let me get this right....
    The very man who took the fall for covering the Administration's out-right lies and security leakings has had his sentence commuted by the very Administration he lied to protect...

    Only higher nepotism could have occurred if President Cheney himself commuted the sentence. But then again, Mr. Libby knows too much and could have unraveled what the world already knows to be lies, and damned lies.

    "...and Liberty and Justice for All." Rings very very hollow at the moment. Partisanship aside, the People should be ashamed and enraged by this trampling of the Justice system.

    July 2, 2007 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  13. Samy, Canada

    Let's face it. Bush has no choice. Libby knows too much to put Bush and Cheney away through impeachment.

    July 2, 2007 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  14. sam nelson, AR

    IMPEACH. IMPEACH. IMPEACH. IMPEACH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 2, 2007 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  15. Neil, New York NY

    Can you help a foreigner to understand how the prerogative of the President to issue pardons and commute sentences fits with the principle of the separation of powers?

    July 2, 2007 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  16. Ron Keen, Scottsville KY

    How much more will the American Public, the Senate, the House of Representatives and others in the Washington circle take until someone calls for the impeachment of this President ??? The actions of this administration that would justify impeachment are far too numerous to mention, and are far more reaching than anything Bill Clinton or Richard Nixon ever did ! By pardoning Scotter Libby, this President is placing his entire administration above the law that he promised to uphold, and that alone is enough grounds for impeachment to me. I say impeach him now before he screws up the country beyond repair !!! (and please include McConnell).

    July 2, 2007 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  17. E. E. Rendell, Chandler, Arizona

    In all my 70+ yrs. I have never seen a President so calloused, deceitful in the operation of the office of the President of the United States as Geo. W. Bush, not only to the legal policies of this country but also in hia handling of our relations with other countries. Never in our history have we lost the trust of our country to our allies as under this administration. This President is the most distrustful man to ever hold the office. I put more trust in President Valimir Putin tha I do in our own President. Sorry but that is the way it is!!

    July 2, 2007 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  18. Jason Miami Florida

    Unbelievable!!!! How can this actually happen in this country? Why can americans rise a nation and begin impeechment proceedings? It only seems logical at this point to do so. Our president is clearly a tyrannt with no regard to the people what so ever.– and what kind of name is SCOOTER LIBBY anyway?? he is a bicycle brains.

    July 2, 2007 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  19. Bill B. McLean, VA

    No one should ever go to jail based upon testimony of a reporter.

    Judith Miller couldn't remember anything until she found a bag under her desk supposedly filled with notebooks.

    Matthew Cooper's notes were that of a functional illiterate. Even he could not make any sense of them.

    And let's not forget "Big Tim" Russert.
    He's been kind of quiet about all of this. Special treatment from the his buddy Fitzfong.

    July 2, 2007 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  20. Bill W, Coatesville, PA

    Tough talk from the Democrats. But can they do anything besides talk?? I'm guessing not. All hot air – like all politicians.

    July 2, 2007 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  21. Joan Carter, San Francisco, CA

    Paris gets a month/Libby goes free
    Martha goes to prison/Enron goes free
    Who says feminism, civil rights, and affirmative action are no longer needed in our modern, free'n'equal society ...

    July 2, 2007 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  22. Brad, Bloomington, IN

    Where is the balance here CNN? Nearly all of the reactions are from Democratic presidential candidates and Democratic congress people. What do the Republicans say about this move? Perhaps they could have offered a view that could help us see why Bush did this. Then we, the readers, could make up our own mind. But no, the Clinton News Network sticks to their left leaning guns. And I'm certainly not saying we go to Fox News for balance. So where do we go for balanced news?

    July 2, 2007 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  23. christoph jenn ,rome NH

    I hope this will bring the same out cry for justice that followed the hilton case. It would show our people care as much about our country as they do about a hollywood hoe

    July 2, 2007 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  24. Katherine Kansas City, Missouri

    You are right about a revolution, Bob Earl..I firmly believe that the middle-class neighbor of mine (and states throughout the U.S.) have had enough of this big business government. And the people who try to convince us that the Democrats are trying to raise taxes and push for 'big government' are the GOP! I think they are all sleazy. I am ready to move to another country...to heck with this 2 party system - it has not been working since the year 2000. "United we stand, divided we fall." Bush should just graciously step down like Tony Blair. Obviously, this is not working!

    July 2, 2007 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  25. Willie in Nevada

    Republicans want their people to be cleared of felonies and want to punish illegal immigrants who are not committing felonies. I think this is a class issue. The rich can do as they please. The poor are punished severely. I say let the illegals stay and deport Bush and his cronies.

    July 2, 2007 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
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