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. Jurme, Honolulu, HI

    The Scooter Libby, Dick Chaney and GW Bush team concocted a diabolical plot; distorted the truth and lied to America and the World, ousted a secret CIA agent, committed crimes, covered up their crimes, and now issued a get out of jail free card to Scooter who valiantly took the fall for the team.

    How long are you going to let Bush and Chaney destroy America?

    July 3, 2007 04:43 am at 4:43 am |
  2. Lam Nguyen, Waldorf, MD

    This is yet another step back in the development of the justice system in America. Apparently accountability and responsibility are out the window with decision. As long as there is someone who has enough authority over the law covering your back, you can get away with almost any crimes.

    It doesn't matter what politicians say anymore. Democrats will diagree with the Republicans and vice versa, regardless of their true beliefs. Money and power comes before ethics and morality. It is a never-ending war within this corrupt government that costs taxpayers billions of dollars and thousands of lives.

    Those in the government need to pay for the crimes. We rely on the justice system to do so. Unfortunately, that system is also biased and blind (or chose to be). Sad.

    July 3, 2007 04:44 am at 4:44 am |
  3. Jon, Louisville, KY

    Scooter Libby has gotten what thousands of people who obstruct justice would want. This administration cares not for the people who live in this country, but those who can line it's pockets.

    For shame Mr. President! FOR SHAME!!

    July 3, 2007 04:46 am at 4:46 am |
  4. Kevin Quinn - CT

    Impeach King George and Big Dick Cheney, who by the way, makes Jabba the Hut look like a nice guy.

    July 3, 2007 04:48 am at 4:48 am |
  5. Robert, Angleton, TX

    Yet one more indication that the sacrifice of thousands of Americans in the current conflict and hundreds of thousands who sacrificed their lives in all previous conflicts means nothing more to Republicans than the bother of washing the yellow ribbon on the side of their SUV's. If the rule of law is just just something to circumvent for your buddies tell me again, what the hell is it they die for?

    July 3, 2007 04:53 am at 4:53 am |
  6. Jaime, Sacramento, CA

    How could President Bush say that the 30 months in prison was to excessive? The judge sentence Scooter within the guidelines of the law. This is another example of how out of touch Bush is with the American people.

    July 3, 2007 04:54 am at 4:54 am |
  7. Anonymous, Phoenix, AZ

    Thanks a lot Mr. President. Regardless...this entire 'Nightmare' will all be over soon.

    July 3, 2007 05:07 am at 5:07 am |
  8. jan willy skjølberg, Oslo, Norway

    this just adds to the impression around the world that the u.s goverment is a big-boys-club that elevates its self over both justice, truth and people.

    im sad on your behalf.

    July 3, 2007 05:12 am at 5:12 am |
  9. Eric, Los Angeles, CA


    Let's see, 9 Democratic opinions to 2 Republican opinions. That means that there are close to 4 times the Democrats in Washington than Republicans, a logically conclusion from the headline. Or is it just that there are 4 times the Democrats working at CNN?

    Off to FOX News to get a "Real and Balanced" story.

    HA! HA! HA! HA! Yeah right!


    July 3, 2007 05:17 am at 5:17 am |
  10. Wouter Sligter, Utrecht, The Netherlands

    This is probably one of the most damaging decisions ever made by the Bush administration. Not only does he free a convicted criminal, he also makes the justice system of the world's most powerful democratic nation look like the justice system of any despot country like Iran and North Korea.

    From my point of view, considering the media attention and the seriousness of consequences for the trust people have in the values of the democratic world, this is one of the most serious attacks on freedom recently made. From now on, extremists have a point when saying the free world is double-tongued. I'd call that a serious blow for ALL free people.

    I feel that every day this president stays in office the free world loses momentum. I hope Americans will stand up in large numbers. Because it's worth it. Because it's concerning the values we (except president Bush) hold so dearly, the values from the French Revolution: Freedom, Equality, Brotherhood. Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité; Let's fight for that.

    Regards from the Netherlands.

    July 3, 2007 05:17 am at 5:17 am |
  11. Maungreel, Bangkok, Thailand

    The U.S President should not communte Scooter's jail sentence as the other tyrants will point out the weakness of the U.S. judiciary. This administration become hypocritical.

    July 3, 2007 05:19 am at 5:19 am |
  12. B W Weller, Auckland, New Zealand

    President Bush commutes the sentence of a public official who compromised US national security but refuses to pardon or commute the sentence of border patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean who were protecting the country's borders from drug smugglers.
    Even in New Zealand, I fail to see any logic or justice in that.

    July 3, 2007 05:21 am at 5:21 am |
  13. Daniel, San Antonio Tx

    It honestly does not surprise me that Scooter Libby was pardoned but it saddens me that it has come to pass. As a young American, it frightens me when an administration pardons it's own for scandals involving their own administration. Did the Grant White House pardon it's cabinet members who were found to be accepting bribes and doing other illegal actions? No. And this Administration has set a dangerous presedent that violating the law is OK and that the executive branch is above the reach of the Judicial branch. So much for checks and balances.

    July 3, 2007 05:26 am at 5:26 am |
  14. David, Jackson, MI

    This is justice? This is George W. making good on his promise to "bring back integrity to the Whitehouse" after the Clinton years? Yet, he refuses to do anything for the two Border Patrol Agents who are serving ten and twelve year sentences for defending our country against drug smugglers. I don't know that this is as much a favor for Scooter, as it is George and Dick are afraid that faced with jail time Scooter might start remembering certain conversations that he couldn't recall before!!!!

    July 3, 2007 05:32 am at 5:32 am |
  15. Joshua Smith, Austin, Texas.

    What a joke? First bill clinton pardons a fugutive mark rich. now bush commutes libby. Bush might as well shut down the legal system in America and declare this country his personal fiefdom. This is such a joke and insult to the american people. Wake up people!

    July 3, 2007 05:33 am at 5:33 am |
  16. Jerry, Winston-Salem, NC

    The democrats have allowed President Bush to get away with everything he wants, crimes and all. Until they stand up for America and justice they deserve credit for his actions. They are all in it together.

    July 3, 2007 05:40 am at 5:40 am |
  17. Joseph M. Karasin, Canton, MI

    The reaction to President Bush's commuting Mr. Libby's sentence has been frought with inaccuracies, as well as visceral disgust at the mere mention of the President's name. He got this one right. First of all, we need to look at Melanie Sloan's comment: Mr. Libby was not indicted for, nor was he convicted of, anything related to the leaking of Mrs. Plame's identity. Richard Armitage was the man who leaked the name, and that is what Patrick Fitzgerald was sent to find out. He found out, but refused to charge Armitage and went after Mr. Libby anyway. Why? Perhaps because he is still bitter over the Mark Rich pardon that Libby helped secure? Id say it is a safe bet. Furthermore, for anyone to defend the Judge in this case is absurd. He took the law into his own hands and wouldn't even allow Mr. Libby to be out on bail while an appeal was being filed. This is unheard of in non-violent, first-time offenses. Justice was served today, and I wish to thank the President for delivering.

    July 3, 2007 05:43 am at 5:43 am |
  18. Will Ross - Omaha, Ne

    I'm so excited to be finished with the endless debating and arguing about the fate of Paris Hilton's sentancing and subsequent interference and counter inteference and punditry and be back to good old fashioned... what? Who did what now. Oh for cryin out loud not again.

    July 3, 2007 05:47 am at 5:47 am |
  19. Matt - North Carolina

    Is anyone really surprised by Bush's actions? Did anyone really expect a friend and colleague of Cheney to serve time in prison? At least Bush is consistent. He will continue to act in a manner without any regard to what may seem fair and reasonable to most Americans. I like most Americans work too many hours, wish that I had more money for my family, hope that my children will find fairness in the world, and dream that tomorrow will always be brighter. I cannot devote another moment of my attention to this story but my level of disgust with Bush will rise just a little bit more until the next incredulous event is revealed.

    July 3, 2007 05:50 am at 5:50 am |
  20. terri

    Bush should be impeached for this action.

    July 3, 2007 05:50 am at 5:50 am |
  21. Rod Pitman, Portland, Oregon

    It is so sad. The rest of the world is watching. We owe it to our children to make sure that they understand right from wrong. What the President did was wrong. The reason for participating in Democracy is to keep our society from spiraling into anarchy. Pray for us to find a way our of this madness. It's not about Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Libertarians, or any party ideology or afiliation. It time for us to take the country back.

    July 3, 2007 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  22. Hugh, York Me

    What do you bet that Republicans with deep pockets are getting some money his way so that the paying a fine part of his sentence won't hurt either. Can whoever has stolen the GOP's moral compass please return it?

    July 3, 2007 05:54 am at 5:54 am |
  23. David, Orlando FL

    Once again George W Bush rules with impunity. Hail Caesar.

    July 3, 2007 05:54 am at 5:54 am |
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