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. Dalen Bressack

    If Bush had no intention of Libby ever going to jail, then why didn't he say so in the beginning and that would have saved the tax payers a lot of money that was wasted on this case!

    July 3, 2007 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  2. Sandi Saunders, Hardy VA

    At least now we know what the meaning of is, is. What goes around comes around, only they don't like it when the shoe is on the other foot, then it is suddenly a bad prosecution and an unjust conviction.

    July 3, 2007 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  3. Ed Powers, Sheridan, WY

    I can't believe I'm lowering myself to even using her name, but........I wonder what Paris Hilton has to say about THIS !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 3, 2007 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  4. Jonathan, NY, NY

    The comments here suggesting the rule of law has been subverted ring hollow. Bush did not disturb the jury's verdict, only a sentence imposed by a judge that is extremely harsh for the crime of perjury. Although serious in and of itself to prosecute, let's not forget that no one was charged with an underlying crime, and had Libby been forthcoming it is unlikely that would have changed.
    There were also questions raised that the prosecutor may have acted for political reasons, and the judge imposing sentence may have done so as well. Libby is not pardoned – he will still carry the conviction to his grave.

    The jury was convinced by the defense argument that Libby was the "fall guy"; that he was singled out for prosecution. By "singling out" Libby for commutation of his sentence, Bush's actions were a reasonable middle ground between letting the jury's verdict stand and mitigating a harsh result.

    July 3, 2007 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  5. Bob, Fargo, North Dakota

    I think it is telling that all of the conservatives sidestep the issue of their party not following the rule of law (something they accuse their comic book villian President Clinton of doing) and then proceed to bash CNN for not quoting more Republicans. They quoted "No Law and Order" Thompson, and he is spouting the party line. Maybe the other Rethugs are too ashamed to comment. It HAS to be a conspiracy.

    July 3, 2007 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  6. Dave Jones

    Bush does not care for right or wrong, justice or judges, courts or congress. He does not care what you or I think. He only cares about his buddies, his base and the use of his personal power.

    July 3, 2007 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  7. christopher, nj

    sick, sick to my stomach. liberation now!

    July 3, 2007 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  8. Mike, South Amboy, NJ

    We now know that the average CIA agent is worth about $250,000 to our president. Sad, truly sad.

    July 3, 2007 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  9. Bill Fairfax, Va.

    What an outrage. Bush is surely the worst President America has ever had. His "reign" is truly the lowest point in 230 years of American history.

    July 3, 2007 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  10. Wizzy

    IMPEACHMENT AS A CURATIVE - You know, at this point, I don't care. I say that we should impeach both Bush and Cheney even though their convictions won't stand in the Senate.

    We at least need to leave some kind of emphatic, public statement that reflects the mood and opinion of the majority of Americans. And IMPEACHMENT is seemingly our only tool to express this sentiment in a way that might satisfy us.

    July 3, 2007 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  11. Jeff, Nevada, Iowa

    And THIS is the form of democracy the Bush administration is trying to foist on Iraq? So far, this whole administration has been a horrible example of what NOT to be. Maybe, if democracy takes hold, they will be able to write a constitution which will actually make good, law-abiding American citizens jealous.

    July 3, 2007 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  12. Bill Bray Miami, FL

    It is incredible the number of people whi claim to be knowledgeable but yet state that Libby leaked Joe Wilson's wife's name to the reporters. It was Richard Armitage, #2 at State and a strong anti-war advocate. Armitage got charged with nothing. Libby was convicted of not remembering the exact date he was told of the vocation of Joe Wilson's wife. Democrats lose all credibility when they mistake the facts. Read the comments closely by the Dem candidates for President and see the lies. Democrats, please educate yourself.

    July 3, 2007 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  13. grosendahl, somers, ia

    Will Dubya now commute the sentence of Victor Rita, whose sentencing appeal was just upheld by the Supreme Court?

    July 3, 2007 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  14. Shawnie - Grants Pass, OR

    The court historically does not pass out this type of punishment for the crimes that Scooter Libby committed. He got an unusually harsh punishment. He still pays a $250,000 fine and he is not pardoned. His felony stays on his record.

    Although I believe that Libby should answer for his crimes, I also believe he has paid sufficiently for them thus far.

    July 3, 2007 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  15. Jim Parker..Brandon, Florida

    In fifty years none of this will matter.
    Let's concern ourselves with changes
    that will!!

    July 3, 2007 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  16. Mark Evans, Cincinnati, Ohio

    This is unreal. Does anyone remember the sanctimony surrounding the Clinton impeachment? This is the crowd that insisted that lying under oath regarding personal conduct was so destructive to our system of justice that it constituted a "high crime or misdemeanor" requiring the impeachment of the President of the United States. Scooter Libby was CONVICTED of perjury and will serve not a single day in jail and have his fines paid by well healed political cronies. God save us until 2008.

    July 3, 2007 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  17. Pete, Tarpon Springs, FL

    How about border agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean?

    Why are these two men still in prison?


    July 3, 2007 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  18. Donald Klinestiver, Milton WV

    Impeach the traitors. Robert Byrd will get our boys home without worrying about Halliburtons loss of billions in profits. And he can recite that document the President hasan't read the Constitution of the United States of America.

    July 3, 2007 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  19. Allen, Grandville, MI

    Discouraging. I feel like why participate in this country? It isn't mine, it belongs to some evil upper class of Cheney clones. They don't get how the common person feels about this. They will (including Fred Thompson) FEEL it at the ballot box.

    July 3, 2007 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  20. E.Boyter, gulfport, MS

    This president continues to show his arrogance and disregard for the American people. this commutation was designed to keep him out of jail and quiet. A full pardon will be awarded after the election in 2008. This adminisration is corrupt from the top to the bottom.

    July 3, 2007 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  21. Leo,Anoka, MN,US

    This is one 30+ year Republican,,,should I say former Republican, that considers the actions of this administration to be criminal and completely contrary to all that The Republican Party used to stand for! The lack of Republican support is a reflection that not all Republicans are mindless idiots that condone the treason of this group of thugs! Many of us find this government to be quilty of malfeasance and support the impeachment of this regime! However, it now appears that the Corporate Fascists along with their allies in the Reactionary Christian cabal have seized the country in a bloodless coup! There is no mechanism in our Constitution to right such a wrong!

    July 3, 2007 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  22. Christian Cater, Batavia, IL

    I don't think people are asking the right "why" question in this case. What happens when most corrupt politicians go to prison,....they write a "tell-all" book about their experiences,...doesn't it sound like our president and VP made a deal with Scooter,...we won't send you to jail, as long as you keep all of our other secrets,...secret,..?

    July 3, 2007 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  23. Kit, New York, NY

    Worst President Ever.

    July 3, 2007 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  24. William Cooper's Ghost, USA

    Forget writing letters. Let's flood the White House with the following items:
    Hand wipes to clean the blood off their hands.

    July 3, 2007 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  25. Demian, Sonoma, CA

    The sad reality is that there will never be accountability in the Bush White House and worse, they will get away with it.

    July 3, 2007 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
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