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. butai, LA, CA

    I can't wait to listen to the apologists on Bush letting Libby out of jail. I bet they all wanted Clinton impeached, thrown to the wolves, but not Libby. Oh, no... so now the message to my kid is if you are a conservative (supposedly who Bush is pandering to by deciding to let Libby off), you are for two different justices. If you are not a member of the GOP and you are guilty you must be punished, if you are a Republican you can cheat, lie, and get pardoned. Remember when Clinton pardoned his buddies what the conservatives said? Right, I figured so much... And the Media is always so upset that this country is split in two… oh, poor members of the intelligentsia. By God, that is a good thing.

    July 3, 2007 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  2. Outraged, Columbus, Georgia

    Bush's decision to commute rather than pardon was not a "compromise", it was strategical. As long as any part of the Libby conviction remains pending on appeal, Libby's and Cheney's lawyers in the Plame/Wilson civil suit will argue a stay should continue forbidding the production of government documents and witnesses related to the leaking of a CIA agent's identity. The press should be covering this manipulation of justice system. It shows just how calculating the Bush administration is and how determined it is to hide the truth behind the leak.

    July 3, 2007 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  3. Carl, Washington, PA

    I did not think I could be anymore disgusted with this corrupt, arrogant, power hungry administration. Then comes the "commutation" of Libby's sentence by King George W. Why isn't Congress moving to impeach both Bush and Cheney? The evidence counts to mount for their removal for the good of the country. Can we afford to wait till January, 2009, to replace them? Look for them to scare the nation repeatedly with the threat of imminent terrorism through the coming election year. It will be the only way they can guarantee more of the same for the next 4 or 8 years!

    July 3, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  4. Harold, Murray, Kentucky

    It wouldn't surprise if this deal was made long ago, between Cheney, Libby, and Bush: that Libby would take the fall, and president Bush would step in and save him at the last minute. Rest assured that Libby will not pay the fine out of his own pocket.
    And as far as obstruction of justice goes. Where's the justice? How do you obstruct justice, when justice hasn't been served in outing V. Plame.

    July 3, 2007 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  5. Carlos Martinez, New York, NY

    Warren from Houston, TX wrote: "I find it interesting that CNN (Clinton News Network) doesn’t publish any comments from republicans, only Democrats."

    Do Giuliani's and Thompson's comments not count? Or did you not read that far?
    Here's another:
    Mitt Romney:“I believe that the circumstances of this case, where the prosecutor knew that there had not been a crime committed, created a setting where a decision of this nature was reasonable.”

    Here's another: "President Bush did the right thing today in commuting the prison term for Scooter Libby," said House Republican Whip Roy Blunt. "The prison sentence was overly harsh and the punishment did not fit the crime. The sentence was based on charges that had nothing to do with the leak of the identity of a CIA operative."

    Here's an Independent too.
    VT Sen. Bernie Sanders: ""A jury of his peers found Libby guilty of lying about his role in revealing the identity of a covert CIA operative," Sanders said. "It is unfortunate that President Bush in commuting his sentence has once again put political considerations above the interests of our judicial system."

    See a pattern developing? Why complain about what quotes were used and not have an opinion of what the quotes were about? If you don't like CNN, don't look at their website or watch their news.

    By the way, these quotes were taken from foxnews.com.

    July 3, 2007 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  6. Victor, Vallejo, CA

    This is incredible. Another case of those with power and are well off looking out for each other. If an ordinary citizen had been in Mr. Libby's shoes...it would have been a guaranteed a cell in a federal prison. It shouldn't matter what political party you follow, whether you're white, black, brown, yellow or green or that you have rich, powerful friends...if you break the law you should be punished the same way every other citizen of the United States of America would be punished. That's what why this country is called the "UNITED" States of America.

    July 3, 2007 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  7. Jon, St. Louis, MO

    To all the cretins complaining that CNN is "only publishing comments from Democrats," think about it for a second: if you were a Republican, would you want to be quoted on this? It is yet another horrible embarrassment for your party from a guy who just keeps 'em coming. They are keeping their heads down, fools. Not that it will save them.

    July 3, 2007 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  8. MR, New York City

    when is Nancy Pelosi going to show some backbone and do what the situation calls for. Having John Conyers initiate impeachment hearings against BOTH Bush and Cheney and ask Fitzgeralds office to investigate whether there is any evidence that Bush bought Libby's silence or for knowledge Libby has that would show that Bush lied and obstructed justice in his interviews with FBI agents about the Plame investigation in 2003.

    July 3, 2007 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  9. MR New York City

    If Bill from New York has any dirt on Hillary or Bill he should do what any good American ( as opposed to a Republican Conservative) would do and take it to the authorities. If not he should shut his mouth and keep his Freudien fantasies to himself and his psychiatrist.

    July 3, 2007 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  10. Alexander, Bakersfield CA

    I think it's about time the neo-cons went home to Fox News. All of your comments disgust me.

    July 3, 2007 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  11. Sheryl, Oakland, California

    Ammaazzzing!!! The "throw away the key" party just revealed how corrupt they really are and how hypocritical they are.
    Criminals: Make sure you change to the GOP party so you can get away with everything.

    July 3, 2007 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  12. MR, New York city

    The ignorance that Mr. Sheppard shows is typical of the ignorant and the arrogant. They know nothing and think they know everything which is the only thing that Republican Conservatives show they know how to do. If the commutation was to buy Libbys silence its obstruction of justice and Bush is halfway to removal from office. Other than that Sheppard doesnt seem to think that Bush's refusal to commute the sentence of a convicted rapist in 1997 when DNA evidence proved his innocence because he said he would not interfere with the decision of a judge and jury and the commuation of Libby's sentence is perfectly in line with Republican conservative neo-fascim, lying and hypocrisy.

    July 3, 2007 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  13. Davis, Los Angeles, CA

    My mind has changed! Gitmo must remain open! It's truly the only punishment that befits this administration. The sooner we see Bush and Cheney on their way to Cuba in orange jumpsuits, the better.

    July 3, 2007 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  14. Bob, Irving, TX

    For all the conservatives saying that all of the responses are from liberals, are you saying that GOP Fred Thompson and Rudy Guiliani are liberals. Oh, that's right you are. Yes all presidents and governors, etc. have the power to commute and pardon and every one has used that. Sometimes for good cases sometimes not.

    As to the gentleman from Carolina pointing to Congress for not enforcing laws (esp. illegal immigrants), please re-read the Constitution: it is the President's Executive Branch that is responsible for enforcing laws. So blame Bush, Cheney and their predecessors not the GOP controlled previous Congress or this Democratic controlled Congress.

    July 3, 2007 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  15. Penelope Pitstop, New york

    As a (legal) European citizen living her for 13 years now, this is the point where I say 'sayonara america.' This is not the country I moved to and it is only getting worse. And to think, I was once proud of the idea that my children would grow up under the American judicial and political system. More fool I. I urge anyone else with alternative routes to follow suit. It's only going to get worse.

    July 3, 2007 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  16. Joe Cortese, Chicago, Illinois

    President Bush's commutation of Libby's sentence is morally and ethically indefensible. This action demonstrates this President's world view, that there are two world's one for himself and his crony's and one for the rest of us. This action illustrates, that in Bush's view the elite escape consequences, just as he escaped Viet Nam and the consequences of being AWOL. Bush's actions and Thompson,s and Roy Blunt's comments supporting Bush's communtation, repeatedly demonstrates that the current Republican Ideology is bankrupt and flawed beyond repair.Democrats need to put impeachment back on the table!

    July 3, 2007 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  17. Tres Seymour, Munfordville, KY

    A response to the Bush Administration, in the words of Thomas Jefferson:

    "The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government."
    "Great innovations should not be forced on slender majorities."
    "Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence."
    And good advice to Americans:
    "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."
    "Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today." (Impeach!)
    "When angry count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred."


    July 3, 2007 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  18. Don Howard

    Before there's anymore breathless anchors screaming about Mr Libby's commutation of his prison sentence, have some of your research people go back and take a close look at the myriads of pardons granted by Pres Bill Clinton. Where was the righteous indignation? Spare me, please!
    Hooray for President Bush!

    July 3, 2007 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  19. Tony Rizzuto, Atlanta, Georgia

    the last I heard both Guiliani (declared)and Fred Thompson (waiting to declare)were Repubican candidates for the 2008 presidential election. Perhaps the whinning repugs should get their facts straight. Oh wait they still believe Bush and Cheney are the best Administration this country has ever had.

    July 3, 2007 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  20. Chris, Oakboro, NC

    Why does this surprise anyone? He is going to protect himself, his corrupt administration, his rich cronies and their oil war. He will pardon Libby for everything before he leaves office and these are the people who claim the moral high ground!

    July 3, 2007 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  21. Veronica Feinstein, Stamford, CT

    Oh goody!! Chimpy has once again given the citizens of this country the finger! I feel so warm and fuzzy now that our system of justice doesn't apply to the criminals in the White House! Gee, I wonder if I lie to federal investigators if I can get my sentence commuted ... how about it Chimpy?

    Just as the right-wing claims President Clinton "taught" our children about oral sex, Chimpy & Co. consistently show our children that the rule of law is like a promise – they are made to be broken ONLY if you are an old, white rich guy; he consistently shows our children that, hey, it's okay to lie! Congrats with that Chimpy!

    July 3, 2007 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  22. Mike Columbus, Ohio

    Equal treatment?

    Did Bill Clinton spend any time in jail for perjury?


    Anyone care to respond with a logical, well thought out argument for why he should, given the statement above?

    If not, then I assume that you agree that either the treatment was fair or that Bill Clinton should also spend 30 months in jail.

    Please, don't scream Valerie Plame. The claim the he exposed her is not only unproven, but proven to be untrue. In other words: Scooter Libby is guilty of perjury but only because he was tried for a crime which he did not commit. This is in direct contrast to Mr. Clinton who WAS guilty of the crime for which he was called to testify.

    Please, someone clear this up so that I can understand and join you in your disgust at the unfairness of it all.

    July 3, 2007 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  23. Vincent King Phoenix, AZ

    Honestly, Isn't ANYONE going to ask??? I mean the man was convicted of lying to a grand jury who was investigating the exposing of a covert CIA operative. So, he was convicted, and his sentence has not been commuted. Well, at this point, I guess the question doesn't matter. But I will ask it anyway... "WHY" did he lie? Why.

    July 3, 2007 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  24. BA, Minneapolis, MN

    There is no one more corrupt than a Republican and they are all corrupt.

    July 3, 2007 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  25. Jeannie Newman

    Let me get this straight – Clinton gets impeached for lying about an affair, and Libby gets a commutation for lying to a Federal prosecutor about outing a CIA operative. Where are the family values in that?????

    July 3, 2007 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
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