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New York Times: SHERYL GAY STOLBERG:
Bush Commutes Libby’s Prison Sentence
WASHINGTON, July 2 — President Bush said today that he had used his power of clemency to commute the 30-month sentence for I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, who was convicted of perjury in March and was due to begin serving his time within weeks.
The action, announced just hours after a federal appeals court denied Mr. Libby’s request to allow him to remain free while his case is on appeal, spares Mr. Libby his prison term, but it does not excuse him from stiff fines or probation.
In a statement issued early this evening announcing his decision, Mr. Bush said he had listened to both critics and defenders of Mr. Libby, who was convicted of four felony counts for lying during a C.I.A. leak investigation.
“I respect the jury’s verdict,” Mr. Bush said. “But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend 30 months in prison.”
Like a pardon, a commutation is a form of clemency, granted to the president by the Constitution. But a pardon is an official act of forgiveness, whereas a commutation simply reduces the penalty, without making an official judgment of forgiveness.
Mr. Bush has been urged by some conservatives to grant Mr. Libby an outright pardon.
The president noted in his statement that the decision to commute “leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby.”
“The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged,” Mr. Bush said. “His wife and young children have suffered immensely. He will remain on probation.”
The unanimous decision earlier today by a three-judge panel, which had been widely expected, upheld a ruling of Judge Reggie B. Walton, who presided over the trial of Mr. Libby.
Judge Walton had ruled that the issues being raised on appeal by Mr. Libby’s lawyers were not substantial enough to have a strong chance of succeeding, which meant that under the law the sentence should not be delayed.
In June, Mr. Libby was sentenced to 30 months in prison and a $250,000 fine after he was convicted in March of obstructing justice and lying to a grand jury and F.B.I. agents who were investigating the disclosure of the identity of a Central Intelligence Agency operative, Valerie Wilson.
The president’s decision drew praise from Mr. Libby’s defenders. “That’s fantastic. It’s a great relief,” said former Ambassador Richard Carlson, who helped raise millions of dollars for Libby’s defense fund. “Scooter Libby did not deserve to go to prison and I’m glad the president had the courage to do this,.” he said, according to The Associated Press.
But Democrats assailed Mr. Bush’s move.
Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, a Democratic presidential candidate, said in a statement that the commutation of Mr. Libby’s sentence “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.”
The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi of California, said the decision showed Mr. Bush “condones criminal conduct,” according to The A.P.
And the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, told The A.P.: “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.”
July 2, 2007
AKA the BUSH JUNTA II Puppethead Boy King
Bush's intervention ensures that Libby will not serve jail time, however Libby must still pay a $250,000 fine and undergo two years of probation. In a statement, Bush said, "I respect the jury's verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison."
He continued, "My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting."
A federal court convicted Libby of perjury and obstruction of justice on March 6, 2007, and sentenced him to 2 1/2 years in prison. Bush issued the order to commute Libby's prison term after a federal appeals court ruled that Libby could not delay his prison term while his case was on appeal.
Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution grants the President authority to fully or partially commute the sentences of those convicted in federal courts, however acceptance of a pardon also requires the party to admit guilt in the matter.
- Chen, Edwin "Bush Commutes Libby's Prison Term in CIA Leak Case". Bloomberg, July 2, 2007
- Associated Press "Bush Spares Libby From Prison". The New York Times, July 2, 2007
- Associated Press "Bush spares Libby from 2 1/2-year prison term". MSNBC, July 2, 2007
- George W. Bush "Statement by the President". Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, July 2, 2007
Leahy:Congress willing to 'go to court' over W.H. subpoena standoff
July 1, 2007
Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, remarked today that Congress was ready to go to court if the White House continues to refuse to comply with subpoenas for information regarding the firing of federal prosecutors.
"They’ve chosen confrontation rather than compromise or cooperation," said Leahy on the 'Meet the Press' news program. "The bottom line is in the U.S. attorney investigation, we have people manipulating law enforcement. Law enforcement can’t be partisan."
The investigation questions whether the White House illegally exerted undue political influence in the firing of 8 federal prosecutors. The Democratic-led investigation could result in a Constitutional showdown over issues of Executive Privilege and Congressional Oversight.
The Senate has also subpoenaed the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney’s office for documents related to the administration’s 'Warrantless Wiretapping' within the United States. In this case, lawyers for Vice President Cheney first argued that the Vice President's role in the Senate meant that Cheney wasn't part of the Executive Branch. This legal claim generated substantial criticism and a failed attempt to get funding for Cheney's executive role cut off. White House lawyer David Addington and others in the administration have since backed away from this argument.