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. Marc, HCMC, VN (formerly of CT)

    Ms.Pelosi, When will you stop talking and start the impeachment process. Do what you are elected and paid to do. This is why people become disillusion with government. You have the support of the majority of Americans to impeach this administration so what's the problem? Are you smart enough to be in your position??? We finally got a woman to prove her competence and guess what...

    July 3, 2007 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  2. taylorbad, Missoula, Montana

    Only a President so weak, so corrupt, so disconnected from the people of America would commute the sentence of a convicted felon like this. It is a disgraceful thing and one which will be impossible to explain to our children.
    Thanks for being such a hapless, hopeless role model for our young people.

    July 3, 2007 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  3. Tom, Plano, TX

    How do they expect us (the people) to react? With the usual "The rule of law only applies to us." ???
    Mr. Bush (Because you are NOT my president anymore, I hope you and your lackies get run out of Washington on a rail!

    July 3, 2007 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  4. J. Vinnacombe, Newnan, GA

    George W. did not surprise me one little bit. He thinks he is above the law and his administration is by far the worst in my lifetime. I once thought Richard Nixon was at the top of the list, but Bush is definitely the worst guy to occupy the white house. God help this country while he is still in office

    July 3, 2007 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  5. Terri at Lewiston, Idaho

    I seem to remember Bush taking an oath before God to uphold the Constitution of the U.S. Anyone else remember that?

    July 3, 2007 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  6. Jeff Shubert, Torrance, CA

    Truly, this cannot be seen as a partisan issue. Acting contrary to the best interest of the People of the United States by undermining the rule of law is simply bad for the country.

    Consider writing your representative as I have and urge them to recommend impeachment of the President.


    July 3, 2007 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  7. Tom, Phoenix, AZ

    What a circus! Bush thumbs his nose at the justice system. What next? May he'll share a tall tale with us about why we should start a war with Iran. Oh boy, I can't wait for the next episode of Bush Babies Gone Wild! I hope he'll let us sit cozy around the podium ... and let us eat yellowcake, too!

    July 3, 2007 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  8. Armando Navarro, Miami, Florida

    No surprice...they protect eachother ...ther are a mafia and we are the ones paying for their big pockets to be full all the time. We desperatly need a l;eader that have balls to say it like it is and lead us to a revolution to take all those rats out of capito hill and set the bases for a good and reazonable government. Hope the CIA is not coming for me or IRS is not looking to get me ASAP, but you know what...enough is enough, cant live in fear and never speaking up. Got to get together!!

    July 3, 2007 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  9. Aaron, Denver, CO

    Only someone like Bloomberg or Oprah who can afford rejecting special interests would be an hosnest president. Neither the Dems, nor the GOP can trully serve the People. They all are self serving and they are funded by Big Business, Unions, The Saudi Royal family, and others. They don't care about us, the people...

    We cannot bring back the gipper, but we can bring back dignity to the white house.

    Call on Bloomberg / Oprah to run for President as Indepedents.

    July 3, 2007 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  10. Tracy, Houston, TX

    Today, July 2, 2007, the President of the United States spit in the eyes of the American People. He is degrading the rule of law, and is leaving a stain on the office of the President that will live on for years.

    I fear for this country if we don't impeach him. His actions, to the outside world, is a negative reflection of this country. And it tells the citizens of this country, that we are a stone's throw away from devastation such as a dictator, civil war, being attacked, being invaded by Illegals, etc.

    July 3, 2007 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  11. Michael Shafran, Upper Marlboro, MD

    Like all things, President Bush did what he felt was right. For all the Democrats crying foul, when they condemn President Clinton for um....MARK RICH, then they have a right to complain. The hypocrisy must stop!

    July 3, 2007 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  12. Sandy Johnson, Anchorage, Alaska

    Why should we be surprised? How sad that our soldiers are fighting a war to bring democracy to another land when we do not have democracy in our own. This administration will go down as probably the most corrupt in history.

    July 3, 2007 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  13. Robert Faria, Las Vegas, NV

    George Bush is not a President for the people. He's KING of the people. His Kingdom is D.C. and he shall rule the land with an iron fist.

    July 3, 2007 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  14. Kim Grant Los Angeles, CA

    Bush is a predictably vicious man who does predictably idiotic things with predictably foul men who only serve to undermine all that America and the Constitution stands for.

    His attitude toward Libby, that vile purveyor of treason, deceit, contempt, and malice was, "Hey it happens... Here buddy! Here's your commuted sentence. Thanks again!"

    Loyalty is the first step to tyranny. Welcome, my fellow Americans, to abject tyranny.


    July 3, 2007 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  15. Kevin Sim, Sinapore

    This is indeed land of the free – free the felons.

    July 3, 2007 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  16. kirk lamb , perryville,md

    Where are all the Bush backers that elected this clown–twice! Another example of equal justice for the rich in this country.

    July 3, 2007 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  17. Schuyler Thorpe, Everett, Washington

    Don't be surprised by this latest "move" by Bush.

    It's been six weeks coming.

    After all, he wanted to grant "amnesty" to 12 million illegal law-breaking immigrants?

    What's one more law-breaking Bush loyalist amongst crooks?

    July 3, 2007 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  18. Ken, Hinsdale, Illinois

    Just another black mark on the Presidency of an embarassing President Bush. What more can you expect when white collar criminals of this country have both the means to commit the crime and to protect their bag men. This President has been the biggest man-made disaster to hit this country. We can only hope that there is a shred of the constitution and decency left when this man leaves office. It pays to have friends or criminals in higher places. God bless America – we really need it now!!

    July 3, 2007 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  19. Jack Cannon, Lawrenceburg, TN

    Despite the claims of numerous commentators on this subject, the President does not have the authority to commute a sentence.

    This supposed authority is alleged to the be derived from Article II, Section II, Clause I of the U.S. Constitution. That clause reads in relevant part as follows.

    "[The President] shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment."

    The subject clause does not mention commutation of sentences. It speaks only of "Reprieves and Pardons". Therefore the supposed authority rests on the definition of each term.

    Upon consulting several dictionaries, the definition of each can be summarized as follows:

    Reprieve – To delay the punishment of; to suspend the execution of sentence

    Pardon – To release (a person) from punishment

    Therefore a reprieve is a delay or suspension. An example would be to grant a reprieve to a pregnant woman facing a death sentence until such time that the child is born. Another example would be a suspension of sentence if a person is judged to become insane. The President claims to commute a portion of the sentence – not any form of delay or suspension.

    A pardon is a complete release – not a partial release. Once a pardon is granted, the person is treated as if the conviction did not occur. That clearly is not the case since Mr. Libby remains convicted and must still pay a fine.

    Only the Judge has the power to commute a sentence – not the President.

    July 3, 2007 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
  20. noname

    America is finished.

    Happy fourth of July.

    July 3, 2007 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  21. Ryan, San Francisco, CA.

    After "evaluating the facts" ... two counts of perjury, one count of obstructing justice in a grand jury investigation, and one of the two counts of making false statements to federal investigators, I find Giuliani to be one of the biggest idiots on the planet for condoning Libby's disregard of the law.

    Can somebody please explain Giuliani and Fred Thompson's statements to me like I'm a child?

    July 3, 2007 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  22. Mike, Corpus Christi Texas

    I am very sorry for the wrongful imprisonment of two US Border Patrol agents who were imprisoned for doing their jobs, as they will not be pardoned by King George. I have heard some Republican senators say they would support impeachment of bush, if the two agents are harmed while in prison. However, after the new Libby verdict , it is hard to believe anything at all that is said not only by the president (which is 'old hat' by now), but sadly our elected officials.....What sad times we live in!!

    July 3, 2007 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  23. Anil Sharma, Lafayette, CA

    Libby's commutation sends wrong signal to the world. How could USA scold a corrupt leader for protecting own cronies? Unless we practice what we preach, we lose credibility.

    July 3, 2007 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
  24. Aaron Anoka MN

    What a mockery of the American people. How is this not a conflict of interest? This is really the final straw for me. I have no faith in my country or its political system. This is what it is capable of.

    Once again, Mr. Bush gets away on a technicality. GW 4,521 USA 0

    July 3, 2007 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  25. William C. Duncan

    My C.& C.
    Thank you for hearing our cry. One great injustice is overthrown. We are still here; Lead us, and turn your face toward our Marines that are being so treacherously destroyed by the very minions that sent them into harm's way to do our work. I pray to God He continue to give you the Strength to stomach the verminm you deal with.

    Still with you,

    Charlie Duncan

    July 3, 2007 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
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