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 haste” - 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. Richard, Ewing, NJ

    Eric Roberts,

    Stop being so blinded by your own hatred. Think calmly will you? Libby did not committed treason, nor was he charged with treason. The investigation is about leakage of a CIA agent: Plame. Her identity was revealed in a Bob Novak's column. Yet, Libby did not leak the identity. How can you put him in jail. Richard Armtiage is the one who leaked the information to Robert Novak. Richard admitted it. Robert admitted it. Fitzgerald knows it. Yet, Undersectary Armitage is not charged with anything - possibly because he has been an antiwar critics. Since he was a antiwar critics, then the whole arguement of "leaking Plame identity for political revenge" does not make sense..... Basically, Fitzgerald hit a wall in his investigation so he charge someone with something, which is stupid.

    July 5, 2007 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  2. Luis, Miami Florida

    Someone should tell MR. Snow that chutzpah is when the vice president orders a CIA agent to be outed in political retaliation, his assitant lies and try to cover it putting national security at risk...then after is found guilty his sentence is commuted by the president without even let it go thru the legal channels...
    now, that is chutzpah!!!!

    July 5, 2007 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  3. Paulet, Simsbury, CT

    Tony Snow and this administration just bring me back to the ridiculousness of highschool - Bush said he pardoned Libby because Clinton pardoned whoever - not original and always that nah!nah!nah! he did it first and she said it after -- No wonder people of today don't have respect for others, when you have leaders who act like they are still back in grammar school.
    The we see Barack speaking and saying to people that "we must see ourselves in others" it's not original but it definitely is something we all should work towards Respect for Others.
    This negative back-stabbing is totally absurd and dysfunctional - as is the administration.

    July 5, 2007 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  4. sonny c.ville platte,la

    The Right still doesn't get it. They don't realize how dangerous to the health of Our Nation,the one they claim to love so dearly, to have the Party in Power use their office to take down political enemies. Even when the issue is about stifling opposition to the rationlale for war against a sovereign nation that hadn't attacked us. The Freedom to have open & honest politeical questions raised is the bedrock of this country,ywt the Right views any opositon as Treason. The political thought process in this country is in bad shape & more bad things are going to happen because of this illness.

    July 5, 2007 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  5. bubba-MO

    I just noticed how OLD Bubba looks.

    July 5, 2007 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  6. dkampmann

    The interesting thing about this discussion is that no matter who is President, their actions, in this case pardons and commutations, are subject to public comment. The immense amount of disapproval of President Bush's action is due to the closeness of Libby to Bush and the Democrats irritation of having a victory slip out of their hands.

    Really, what did Bush have to lose by doing this during his term as President. Very few people in America still support him and his administration. Those that do support him don't disapprove of the communtation.

    Overall, a politically sound move, but maybe not a very ethical one.

    July 5, 2007 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  7. Dr. Rodolfo F. Acuña

    Clinton was wrong but he did not onstruct justice to save his own skin. Like his father did in the Iran/Contra scandal, the purpose was to protect and reward those who broke the law for his benefit and to persuade Libby not to implicate him or Cheney. A better analogy would be Susan McDougal who Clinton could have helped but did not. Clinton's motives would have been suspect. Snow is disengenuous.

    July 5, 2007 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  8. Pixie, Murfreesboro, TN

    Let's be clear: Bush pardoned a man whose crime was lying to defend the president. This is tantamount to the president pardoning himself. For future reference, the methodology of presidential lawbreaking goes like this: a) Commit crime. b) Compel underling to lie under oath defending you. c) If need be, pardon the underling. This is very different from other "pardons". This is a systematic means by which the President can operate outside of the law.

    July 5, 2007 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  9. Chris Fairmont WV

    To Eric Roberts, Naperville, IL you should get your facts correct. It was Richard Armitage who revealed Valerie Plame's identity not Libby. I don't agree with what the President did, but at least get your facts right.

    July 5, 2007 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  10. Richard, Ewing, NJ


    That is a speculation based on Wilson's book, right? First, it is a speculation about a secret meeting which may not had happened. No evidence. Do you know it is a circlar arguement? Wilson claimed Cheney has a secret meeting with senior staffers to outst his wife Plame. Can he proved it? No, because it is a secret meeting, and the materials are not make public. It is not make public because it is secret. That is the beauty. You cannot prove or disapprove a secret meeting, much like alien theory. Can you prove or disprove aliens. No to either. Wilson cannot prove a SINGLE thing. He is making speculation based on a meeting which may not have existed and if it did, then he definitely he was not in it.

    What we do know 100% is that the public leak of Plame is on a Robert Novak column, and the person who accidently leak this information is Richard Armtiage.

    To say Libby's commuted without going through legal channels is ridiculous. There is NO required procedure for pardon and commute. Yes, most people get pardon after filing, but that is because most people do not know presidents. Get it? Bush knows Libby. Bill Clinton pardoned his brother Roger Clinton. Do you actually think Roger Clinton filed legal papers for a pardon. Or did Richard Nixon filed legal papers for a pardon too? My god.... Please read about the law or american history before calling someone "illegal"

    July 5, 2007 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  11. erika morgan black dimond wa

    Bill Lepto.SC I take it then you personally enjoy being a world class bully, a destroyer of innocent life, unprovoked attacks against innocent bystanders. You think torture for the sake of torture and sexual humiliation, is something to aspire toward, you like lying to get your way and to coverup your wrong doing and are so deluded you think this could actually work in the end. Oh! and no matter what if you have power, you, are supposed to use it to be above the Law and to take advantage of the worthless serfs of the world whose only purpose is to aggrandize yourself.


    Eric Roberts, nice post I could not agree with you more!
    Erika Morgan Black Diamond Wa.

    PS. Congress I know you guys are scared spit-less of the grub that the GOP Cabal can scrub up on you, but you can find true freedom and relief by coming clean, it is real cathartic and allows you do do something useful with your life, don't wait too long.

    July 5, 2007 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  12. Richard, Ewing, NJ


    Get your facts right, will you? Bush never said he communted Libby (not pardon) because of Clinton's action. I challenge you to find it. He said he did it because he believe the sentence is too harsh. Now, many conservative radio hosts said liberal outage is inconsistent because Clinton pardon many shady people, but you cannot hold Bush accountable for radio hosts languages.

    July 5, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  13. Pete, Tarpon Springs, FL

    Mr. Snow,

    Return to FOX immediately their "BS" meter allows your type of statements!

    July 5, 2007 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  14. Ryan, New York, NY

    I agree with Bill Lepto. We need more people like Bush, who in the face of overwhelming adveristy and opposition from a large majority of the public, has the strength and courage to LEAD us and our country...right down the toilet.

    July 5, 2007 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  15. Carroll SB Nebraska

    I found Snow comments interesting. It seem that more money you have one does not have do the time. that was it seem just die for your country brake the law forget.

    July 5, 2007 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  16. Jon, Sacramento, CA

    At last count of impeached Presidents:

    Clinton 1, Bush 0

    I guess if I were the former impeached President stripped of my law license trying to get my wife into the oral er oval office I might attack the current republican administration too!

    July 5, 2007 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  17. Richard, Ewing, NJ

    Dr. Rodolfo F. Acuña and all people who claimed Clinton never impeached people who may be in conflict of interest must be kidding. Clinton DID pardon Susan McDougal who is a key figure in Whitewater scandal. Anyone read any news?

    Half of people who write here do not even know what this investigation is about and who are the players. The investigation is about a CIA agent, Valerie Plame, identity leak to Robert Novak. Joe Wilson, husband of Plame, clams that this is done to silent anti-Iraq War critics. As it turns out, Richard Armitage is the source who unintentially passed the information to Robert Novak. Armitage and Novak both admitted to this event. Joe Wilson's claim is proved wrong because Armitage himself was and is a Iraq war critic from the beginning. So it makes no sense that Richard Armitage the most trusted friend to Colin Powell and a critics of war would reveal Plame's identity to intimate war critics. Armitage dislikes Cheney so much that he left office when Powell left. Does he sounds like the person who Cheney asked to do dirty work?

    July 5, 2007 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  18. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    Jon in Sacramento ... thanks for your completely IRRELEVANT impeachment comment. Can I get those 10 seconds of my life back please?

    In your next post, make sure you tell us what Clinton's impeachment has to do with the topic of this thread? I'll even tell you what the topic is, since apparently you forgot last time: Tony Snow's comment on the commuting of Libby's sentence.

    Until then, here's a more relevant number for ya: Number of time's a commuting of a prison sentence was done to save the current administration's backside before any time was even served?

    Bush 1, Clinton 0

    July 6, 2007 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  19. Bill Lepto Charleston SC

    Erika Morgan,

    I can't say I'm surprised by your comments. I hear things like that time and time again attributed to our country and our president. In my humble opinion, that attitude is misguided, but who am I to disagree? I only served this great country of ours for 20 years in the military, guaranteeing your right to say anything you wish to say without fear of retribution. This is a great country. We are not, nor are our leaders bullies, or destroyers of innocent life. Torture? I think not. And as far as sexual humiliation is concerned, do you recall that we tried and convicted individuals for the atrocities committed at Abu Graab prison? You need to realize that we are a nation of individuals. Every wrong that happens is not the fault of George Bush, neither was all of the wrong during Bill Clinton's administration his fault. And for what it's worth, while president Clinton was undergoing his impeachment proceedings, I never once criticized him personally, unlike the left who because of their hatred of president Bush, would go to any lengths to sully his name, including using our heroic soldiers to do so.

    July 6, 2007 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  20. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    Bill Lepto:

    If you think the world needs more like Bush to run your Nation then maybe you should enlist to clean up the carnage he and his Clones leave behind. I highly doubt any citizens, at least those outside the US of A will agree with you.

    And how are those against Bush sullying the names of Soldiers? It's the Bush War, the Needless, Reckless, Void of any Strategy, Reason or Credability War that is dishonouring the Military Members serving under his command! The contempt held by many for Bush has absolutely nothing to do with the Brave and Heroic Military serving him.

    And may I remind you, your loyalty to Bush is felt by few but his arrogance and recklessness as a leader is felt world wide. And may I also remind you, that the US is not the only Nation supporting this war nor is it the only Nation who disagrees with the way their military have been scammed and deceived. They were thrown into this war on the Pretense of Protecting Our Freedom and Protecting our Lands from Terrorists whilst the Bush Government doesn't lift a finger to protect or show allegiance to them who are in the trenches daily without even the equipment they need to protect themselves.

    It is easy for Power Hungry Leaders to start a war and then cowardly turn their backs on those who are actually doing the fighting and putting their lives on the line daily, in this case for a mere supposition of WMD's that have yet to be found. There now in Iran I hear! Good luck with that one!

    Ask the Iraquis what they think of Bush after their Nation has been blown to bits and thousands of their people have died on a mere Supposition!

    Fill your Boots with your Bush Adoration and Gratitude. Meantime I'll fill mine with Contempt for a Leader that ignited a war haphazardly on a whim that resulted in the loss of thousands of civilan and heroic military lives. I'm sure the families of those lost due to a mere supposition will thank you for your Adoration and Loyalty to the Great One!

    My Adoration and Gratitude is for the military members who gave and are still giving their all, for we at home. They in my mind are the Leaders and the Great Ones. God Bless Each One ... and Bring Them Safely Home.
    And I'll Pray as well that God Will Bless America in 2008 with a true Peace Loving, Honest, Wise, Compassionate, and God Fearing Great One which will eliminate any possible chance of another Bush.

    July 6, 2007 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  21. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    To Rick in Chicago.... I imagine it was rather DIFFICULT for you to follow a thread of logic and connectivity. The article was about Tony Snow firing back at impeached former president. My comments were summarizing the reasons an impeached president stripped of his law license would even venture into the fray....

    Next time, for your benefit, I'll use little words and make sure to draw big pictures to help you understand.

    July 6, 2007 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  22. Bill Lepto, Charleston SC

    Tricia M,

    I will not stoop to the level of anger you project in your post. As I mentioned earlier, I served in our nation's military for 20 years, I applaud you for your opinion. Very simply I happen to disagree with you. I would like to correct one thing you incorrectly state that I said. I did not write that the names of our soldiers are being sullied. If you will read my post again, you will see that it is my opinion that the far left are USING our soldiers to sully the president's name. I also recall being a young man and listening to the left criticize president Reagan for many of his policies, accusing him of putting the nation in danger of war with the Soviet Union. Note if you will, the Soviet Union is no more. Leadership Tricia. It's not always easy, and the popular decision is not necessarily the right one. I agree wholeheartedly with you about the debt of gratitude we owe the members of our great military. I do believe however, that we owe it to those who have lost their lives to finish the fight, not to cut and run. They are heros all. Once again, I value your opinion as I do all Americans. Lets remember that we are in this together, the enemy is without, not within.

    July 6, 2007 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  23. Ann Brunswick ME

    Clinton is only expressing what his/her adoring fans have been saying. "It doesn't matter what they have done, we want them back." Of course he thinks we've all forgotten about the Clinton legacy of lies and corruption.

    July 7, 2007 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  24. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    Jon .... let me get this straight ... the word you got from the point of the ENTIRE article was "impeached"? Not "pardon", "commuting", "hypocrisy" .. but "impeached"? You might want to stick to drawings since your reading comprehension is entirely subpar. By the way, do a search of the word "impeached" in the text of the CNN article above and tell me how many times the word is even mentioned.

    Do you know how to draw a picture of the number ZERO?

    Maybe your post should have read: "I guess if I was ANY OF THE CURRENT REPUBLICAN candidates for president who MADE A HABIT OUT OF KISSING DUBYA'S BEHIND FOR THE PAST 7 YEARS and I suddenly needed to FLIP FLOP ON MY SUPPORT OF HIM IN ORDER TO GET ELECTED, I might attack the current republican administration too!"

    July 7, 2007 03:59 am at 3:59 am |
  25. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    Rick in Chicago,

    You might want to lay off the excessive drinking as it appears to be effecting your thinking.

    Have you become so lost to sobriety that you failed to remember President Clinton was impeached? Do you remember he was stripped of his law license? Considering these are historcial FACTS – whenever former President Clinton chooses to grab a microphone and make statements about the current administration and get into a war of words he (as well as the general public) should rememeber his legacy.

    If Nixon were commenting on "Executive Privilege" would you also conveniently forget he was forced from office?

    Bill Clinton's condemnation of President Bush's decision to commute Mr Libby's sentence is self-serving, hypocritical, and transparent grand-standing. The same character flaws which lead to his impeachment and stripping of his law license.

    Is that too much for you to follow Rick?

    July 9, 2007 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
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