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. Dan Singleton, College Station, Texas

    I just feel so sick over this, my stomach actually hurts. I want to throw up. At long last, Mr. President, have you no shame?

    July 3, 2007 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  2. Tony Rebel, Boise, ID

    It wasn't that long ago when President Bush spoke out against government officials leaking information and continuously reminded us of the penalties. Although I voted for Bush, and you can spin this story a number of ways, the bottom line is he did a complete 180. Not only do I feel lied too (yet again), but I feel stupid for ever voting for President Bush. Betrayed yet again.

    July 3, 2007 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  3. Chris, Los Angeles, CA

    Once again, President Bush makes a decision that goes against everything that our brothers in arms fought and died for. He's a discrace to this country, and a continuing discrace to the world at large. I once supported Bush...but now, after Iraq, bad decisions on the enviornment, not to mention his beliefs on immigration...I cannot support him anylonger.

    July 3, 2007 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  4. usa

    Hours after a federal appeals court ruled that I. "Scooter" Lewis Libby would to have to begin serving his prison sentence while appealing his conviction for crimes of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to investigators, President Bush commuted his sentence.

    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.


    Remind George Bush what he told staffers during a swearing in ceremony for White House staff back in January 2001:

    "[We] must remember the high standards that come with high office. This begins with careful adherence to the rules. I expect every member of this administration to stay well within the boundaries that define legal and ethical conduct. This means avoiding even the appearance of problems. This means checking and, if need be, double- checking that the rules have been obeyed. This means never compromising those rules. No one in the White House should be afraid to confront the people they work for, for ethical concerns, and no one should hesitate to confront me as well. We are all accountable to one another. And above all, we are all accountable to the law and to the American people."

    Click here to watch the video of George Bush addressing staff: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjwLlfFKerU

    July 3, 2007 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
  5. Deepak, Mangalore, Karnataka

    The repeated attempts by the bush administration to undermine law, be it guantanamo bay, abu garib, Iraq war has done USA a huge damage in the long run. In history this time will mark the beginning of the end of the reign of USA as the protector of law and equality and human rights and a country which all other countries, especialy developing countries,hoped to aspire tobe and emulate. It is an incentive to countries to go Nuclear and ensure that their economies are centralistic so that their secutity is enhanced. Gone are the days when countries could appeal to USA and expect fairness and justice. Sad. very sad. To think the people of USA have elected Bush twice!! Shame on you!

    July 3, 2007 02:38 am at 2:38 am |
  6. Henry Broyles alabama

    This is a SAD day in American History. President waves away a prison sentence for his friends and thumbs his nose at the very Constitution that he swore to uphold while there are some men and women sitting on Death Row who are truly innocent but do not have the friends that Scooter Libby has. This just proves that JUSTICE IS NOT BLIND when it comes to wealth and power!

    July 3, 2007 02:38 am at 2:38 am |
  7. Mike Rodrigues, Portland Oregon

    Libby must have indicated that he was willing to spill his guts, and the administration couldn't have it's "family jewels" exposed. This is a great break for the Democrats. It's their's to lose.

    July 3, 2007 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  8. dexter prue washington dc

    Look I dont have any money I never have. I dont have Powerful friends I was born in this Country and I love this land.And I have someone that I love in jail waiting to be sentence shes not a really afinder her mother die her job wasnt paying enough to pay the bills she had at that time little sister to take care of.U see I have a good reason to get her out of jail!But not the power. Gov. for the people my -!Gov. for them selfs!

    July 3, 2007 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  9. Eric Bauman, Summerville, SC

    And some people wonder why nobody trusts the American government or, in particular, the Bush administration.

    July 3, 2007 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  10. Elizabeth Silverthorn, Torrance, California

    This is just another example of a president who believes he and those who support his policies are above the law. This is a disgrace and a slap in the face of our American Constitution of laws and everything that we as Americans stand for.

    July 3, 2007 02:49 am at 2:49 am |
  11. Randy, British Columbia, Canada

    How does this decision represent the democratic principles for which the United States Armed forces is fighting for in Afghanistan and Iraq? The fact of the matter is; that it does not and that this administration is full of hypocrisy and self-interest and this decision cleary demonstrates this. I hope my own fellow countrymen and women and my neighbours to the south realize this so we can get out our people out of these wars for "democracy" and focus on more pressing domestic issues such as poverty, health care and trying to prevent wars and not vice versa.

    July 3, 2007 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  12. Bubuah Brown, Vestel, Tennessee

    Only Louis XVI can match bush as an aloof know-nothing ruler.

    The bush's and their ilk, their storm of relativity, their disgrace is at the cost of commas and excuses with nonsensical paradoxical logic.

    right is wrong and wrong is expensive but non-confining as it is for the bush crack heads in brutal animal-like lockups... where I hope that libby will find hims self with the shrub, the ogre, and the rest of the global terrorist.

    Please Send Help!

    July 3, 2007 02:53 am at 2:53 am |
  13. Deanna Harner, Houston TX

    It is yet another example of this administration acting as if they are the only branch of gov't. It may be legal to commute Libby's sentence, but it is a slap in the face to the judicial system and the American people to whom the President said he would hold accountable anyone associated with the CIA leak. Hopefully, with this action and the others taken by this administration, the American people will wake up and call for a new direction in Washington!

    July 3, 2007 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
  14. Sunny, Dallas,TX

    I thought this kind of stuff happens only in third world countries.

    July 3, 2007 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
  15. David Correa, Santa Cruz, California

    Impeach Bush


    July 3, 2007 02:55 am at 2:55 am |
  16. Lynne Burns, Tucson, AZ

    After more than six years of a disastrous Presidency, I should not be suprised by yet another instance of cronyism. Yet I guess I am too much a patriot who loves her country to accept another mistake from Bush. Wish I could believe he would seriously consider pardoning some not politically connected individuals who have done actual time in prison for far less serious offenses. Just be sure you are registered and vote for your country in 2008.

    July 3, 2007 02:55 am at 2:55 am |
  17. Ron, Grand Rapids MN

    I think it is absolutely crazy that the president can say he believes in the legal system, base decisions on the law and the evidence provided. Then the president turns around and overrides the judge in the case after several reviews.

    July 3, 2007 02:58 am at 2:58 am |
  18. Jeff, Spokane WA

    I noticed that the quotes were done by all Democrats. Anyone ask a Republican, or did they all decline comment?

    July 3, 2007 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  19. luke l. garden city,ut

    impeach Bush!

    July 3, 2007 03:04 am at 3:04 am |
  20. Jake Orndorff Norhampton MA

    Social protection is due only to peaceful citizens; there are no citizens in the Republic but the republicans. The royalists, the conspirators are, in its eyes, only strangers or, rather, enemies. Is not the terrible war, which liberty sustains against tyranny, indivisible? Are not the enemies within the allies of those without? The murderers who tear our country apart internally; the intriguers who purchase the consciences of the people's agents; the traitors who sell them; the mercenary libelers subsidized to dishonor the popular cause, to kill public virtue, to stir up the fires of civil discord, and to prepare political counterrevolution by means of moral counterrevolution—are all these men less to blame or less dangerous than the tyrants whom they serve? All those who interpose their parricidal gentleness to protect the wicked from the avenging blade of national justice are like those who would throw themselves between the tyrants' henchmen and our soldiers' bayonets

    Robespierre, "On Political Morality"

    July 3, 2007 03:04 am at 3:04 am |
  21. Adam, Kingston, Ontario

    america is a joke.

    July 3, 2007 03:05 am at 3:05 am |
  22. Viet Tran, Houston, Texas

    How many more times must this sorry excuse for an administration trample on our beloved American values of justice and fairness before we as Americans see them for they are? Bush and his administration preach justice, peace and progress, but so far, they have only shown us their disregard for the law, their love of war, and their prediliction for destroying. We don't have to repeat what others are saying about this latest example of Bush spitting on the rule of law do we?

    July 3, 2007 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  23. Larry, Seattle WA

    Hmmm, good move releasing this right before everyone takes the 4th off. That way hopefully everyone will forget!

    July 3, 2007 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  24. Arthur Green Jr, SPANAWAY, WA

    This is another example of this administrations disregard for the law, and a slap in the face of those fighting this President's war. And a statement that the law only applies to the average citizen and not politicians or appointees who do their dirty work.

    July 3, 2007 03:08 am at 3:08 am |
  25. Troy, Shreveport, LA

    Can we commute the remainder of Bush's term in office...I think the American people have been punished enough!

    July 3, 2007 03:14 am at 3:14 am |
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