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. John Smith

    Another Bush-whacked moment for this country! We are living, and frankly besieged under the outrageous lies and criminalistic activities by this adminstration. All common decencies, moral accountabilities, and courageous hopes from our government are simply being swiped away by each and every action this President takes. Simply shameless!!

    July 2, 2007 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  2. B Raines, New York, NY

    Is this sampling of reactions even remotely attempting to be fair? Let's see – six Democrats and the Wilsons lawyer are quoted for their reaction. Hmmm, I wonder what a whole bunch of presidential candidates on the other side of the aisle looking to satisfy their base are going to say? 30 months was a ridiculous sentence given the facts of the case – including punishment for conduct never alleged in a court nor proven. The facts remain (a) there was no underlying crime and (b) Joe Wilson is a proven liar who lied to Congress about the real issue.

    July 2, 2007 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  3. Tyler, WA

    For claiming to be the party of morals, I dont see how I can ever vote for the Republican party again. Mr. President, you have just lost my vote for your party. As a History Major in college, you have easily placed your administration as the worst of all time. Shame on you.

    July 2, 2007 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  4. Don Hornbeck, Port St. Lucie, FL

    CNN might want to include some comments from the minority party too, in an effort to not be so blantantly bias.

    July 2, 2007 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  5. James Womack, Seattle, WA

    It is obvious that anyone politically opposed to the president will be upset by this decision. That said, the Constitution provides for the President to commute and pardon. Every President has exercised one or both of those powers to the chagrin of their political opponents. The Constitution does not provide a test as to when it is appropriate to use the power. Those who disagree with this decision need to petition to change the Constitution. Otherwise, it is in the discretion of the President.

    Finally, of course the President should have pardoned Mr. Libby, and esteemed lawyer and law abiding person. As a criminal defense lawyer I can tell you that law enforcement utilize different techniques to trick people during interrogation. The Supreme Court has even ruled that the Police can lie to a suspect!! So much for upholding the law. Hence the general rule, when the FBI comes knocking, say no comment without your lawyer. Aside from that, the person who leaked the name was Armitage who, apparently, did so innocently. I applaud President Bush for telling the likes of Biden (accused of plagiarism) or Edwards (who voted for the Iraq war yet has the audacity to say that mistakes have consequences even while he aspires to be President) where to go. It is time to tell the left that simply attacking the President is not a substitute for leadership.

    July 2, 2007 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |


    July 2, 2007 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  7. comartslibrarian

    Libby still faces a hefty fine and probation, which is more than Bill Clinton ever received for his perjury and obstruction of justice. Spare me the wailing and gnashing of teeth you Democratic hypocrites.

    Washington is a joke - on both sides of the aisle...

    July 2, 2007 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  8. Patricia S. Trichon

    There are pardons and there are commutations. The outrage is because it covers up further the mystery behind the reason for going into Iraq and causing such a tragic war. The commutation only increases the fact that this administration uses the law only to benefit its needs. The country knows where the idea came from to out Valerie Plame. Again, the administration puts the American people on the back burner with their power and secrecy.

    July 2, 2007 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  9. John, Lewiston, Maine

    I have no room left for outrage. This is just one more example of the multitude of reasons that the current administration deserves, more than any other in the history of this country, the constitutional remedy of impeachment and removal from office. I had some small hope that the Democratic congress would do that. I am not surprised at all, however, that while they will express outrage little more than that will come from it. Politics as usual. From my perspective, when the law can be so grossly circumvented, as this administration has done with the apparent blessings of our congressional representatives, both Democrat and Republican, it is time to throw them ALL out.

    July 2, 2007 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  10. Andrew, Portland, ME

    This is just a new notch in a long, long history of actions that President Bush has taken that will lead to his position as the worst president this country has ever seen.

    July 2, 2007 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  11. Sonia Montes, Michigan

    Thanks President Bush. You have once again proven that you place yourself and your privileged buddies are above the law. You have lied to us over and over again. You are a war criminal & a liar. You should be impeached. It is a sad day in America today. A very sad day indeed.

    July 2, 2007 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  12. Barry Kirsch, FL

    I am a Native American born on the 4th of July and I must say that I am embarrassed by the fact that my country is run by so many criminals. And even more embarrassed by the fact that the people of this country don't do anything about it.

    July 2, 2007 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  13. , Chicago, IL

    Before the Democrats begin their flood of criticism on the President, they need to release the list of pardons that President Clinton passed out in his last week of office and show the crimes that those people committed, in order for me to listen to a single word they say.

    July 2, 2007 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  14. Ruth Long Beach, CA

    Title states "Reactions in Washington" I didn't realize there were only democrats there, at least those are the only ones quoted. Very one sided article!

    July 2, 2007 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  15. Richard Lipsky, NY, NY

    You couldn't find anyone who supports the president's decision? Couldn't have looked all that hard.

    July 2, 2007 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  16. Dave, The People's Republic of Boulder, CO

    What is Melanie Sloan talking about? Libby didn't leak the info, Armitage did.

    What is Richardson talking about? Ignoring FISA laws...eaves dropping on US citizens...Geneva conventions.... huh? The guys who wrote the FISA laws said this was ok...Geneva conventions only apply to uniformed soldiers...and he's running for President? Scary!

    I just wonder why the investigation kept going on Libby after we learned that Armitage leaked the info. Wierd.

    Also, if we go by the most recent purjury for a high ranking Executive Branch official, you shouldn't get jail time, right? Didn't Clinton lie to a grand jury and not do time.

    I personally think Libby SHOULD do time. Just like I think Clinton should have done time. Time to dump the whole lot out!

    July 2, 2007 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  17. Jim Jackson, Las Vegas, NV

    Once again – the U.S. legal system as well as our system of government, is making the American people the laughing stock of the world. While we have Border Patrol officers in prison for doing their job, we have drunkin hotel heiresses and unreliable politicians being let out of jail free, and slapped on the wrist. I am ashamed to say that I voted for G. Bush Jr. twice. I feel the need to apoligize to the American people for doing that. I am truly sorry.

    July 2, 2007 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  18. Elizabeth McLain, Gold Hill, Nevada

    So what do the Republicans congressional leaders have to say about this? CNN is only reporting the Democrats. Why's that?

    July 2, 2007 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  19. Scott Taylor

    The American People have just witnessed play of the proverbial "Get Out Of Jail Free" card. It is reprehensible that these actions continue in our current administration. Each day brings further galvanization that the representation "for the people" is by declaration only.

    July 2, 2007 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  20. B Himes, Rochester, NY

    God better help the American people.
    I wouldn't be surprised that Cheney, himself, issued this commutation!!
    Bush is supposed to be with Putin....
    and using all his ? faculties to benefit the people, American and Russian,

    July 2, 2007 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  21. Bill, Spokane WA

    It's rather disappointing to see democracy work so poorly. How did such a great country become a place where the rule of law does not apply to all? Days, such as this one, make Canada all the more appealing.

    July 2, 2007 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  22. Jon Davison, Olympia, Washington

    No one seems to be accountable in this country except for the poor soldiers being killed in Iraq. What do we need government for?

    July 2, 2007 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  23. angel phoenix arizona

    how can we ever justify placing anyone in front of a court for whatever te crime, when the person who is at the top of the supposed rule of law has just proven that the law is only for the under-privileged to adhere to. The country should explode in direct response to this imperialistic affront on our democracy.

    July 2, 2007 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  24. Robyn, Laurel, MD

    Have they lost their minds? Why is it that most Republicans want to compare any "wrong" decisions that Pres. Bush makes to President Clinton? Note: Susan McDugall went to jail for NOT talking. Pres. Bush's arrogance and lack of respect for the judicial and legislative system is impeachable. Scooter Libby lied. Now the Republicans' have "memory problems", not lying. Had this been Democrats the Republicans would have sent everyone to jail. As they did. Joe DiGen. . .is obviously still bitter about his own inadequecies.

    July 2, 2007 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  25. Amy V., Seattle, WA.

    Once again this miserable excuse for a President has given due process the middle finger. If the Dems had anything resembling guts, they would have started impeachment proceedings as their first order of business.

    January 20, 2009 can't come soon enough.

    July 2, 2007 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
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