July 5th, 2007
12:56 PM ET
10 years ago

Snow slams Bill Clinton over Libby criticism

The Clintons are campaigning in Iowa this week.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - White House spokesman Tony Snow fired back Thursday at Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her husband after former President Bill Clinton charged at a campaign stop that the Bush administration believes the law is a "minor obstacle" in the wake of the commutation controversy.

"I don't know what Arkansan is for chutzpah, but this is a gigantic case of it," Snow told reporters in an off-camera briefing.

Snow took the shot at the Clintons after again being pressed by reporters about President Bush's decision to commute the 30-month prison sentence of Lewis "Scooter" Libby and leave the door open to a future pardon.

Asked about House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers' plan to probe the Libby commutation, Snow snapped that the congressman should "knock himself out," but also probe the slew of pardons granted at the end of the Clinton administration.

In an op-ed piece in USA Today Thursday, Snow defended Mr. Bush's action by charging that Mr. Clinton was "in a mad rush to push through pardons with dizzying hasteā€ - 141 grants on Clinton's final day in office, part of 211 in the final nine weeks.

Asked by a reporter if he was asserting that "two wrongs make a right" and thus it was okay for Mr. Bush to abuse his power, Snow said: "Do we feel we've done wrong? Do we feel we cut corners? The answer is no."

Snow also asserted the White House feels it is on safe legal ground in contending that Libby will serve two years of probation, despite questions now being raised by Judge Reggie Walton, who issued an order July 3 suggesting Libby cannot serve any probation since he never served any prison time before the commutation.

"Strictly construed, the statute authorizing the imposition of supervised release indicates that such release should occur only after the defendant has already served a term of imprisonment," Walton wrote.

After first suggesting he wasn't sure, Snow said White House Counsel Fred Fielding had "absolutely" checked on this question before the President signed off on the commutation. "The White House did not make a misstep," he said.

Despite the certainty expressed by Snow, he did add that there's some "gray area in the law."

- CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry

Filed under: Bill Clinton • Scooter Libby
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    Jon, Sacramento .. here's what YOU need to follow: this isn't an article (or thread) on impeachment – which would be why the word WASN'T EVEN MENTIONED IN THE CNN ARTICLE. And it's not that I don't agree with you about Clinton either, cuz I do – regarding his PARDONS. They were B.S.

    But the article is about "Libby", "commuting", hell, even "pardons" and "hypocrisy" – but NOT impeachment. You're the only one tripping on this unrelated subtopic.

    Clinton's impeachment has nothing to do with whether Dubya's commuting of Libby's sentence was right. NOTHING! They are totally mutually exclusive topics. That's like me defending Clinton's impeachment by saying "Well .. well .. ummm ... Nixon resigned!" Whether Nixon had to resign has got nothing to do with it.

    Now, like I told you under another thread .. STOP attacking other candidates to try to defend yours.

    July 9, 2007 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
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