Scooter Libby Commutation, Part Two

I'm coming late to the news that President Bush has commuted Scooter Libby's prison sentence.

With the denial of bail being upheld and incarceration imminent, I believe it is now important to react to that decision," Bush said in a statement issued by the White House early this evening. Although the president said he "respected" the jury's verdict, he added that he had "concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive."

Bush left Libby's $250,000 fine in place. Big Tent Democrat weighed in here.

The text of Bush's Clemency Order is here.

My immediate thought is that Dick Cheney has some clout left after all. My second is that Libby may not get a pardon when all is said and done. From President Bush's statement:


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….

Did Bush give Libby and Cheney a choice between a commutation now to avoid jail or a pardon later, telling them it was one or the other?

Marcy Wheeler laments the commutation writing that Libby now retains his 5th Amendment privilege. That's true, but only until his appeals are exhausted. And even while the appeal is moving through the courts, Congress or the Justice Department could immunize him from further prosecution if either were to continue the investigation, thus compelling his testimony.

The bottom line is no one seems to have the power to investigate Dick Cheney. After all, Scooter Libby was just his pawn.

That, to me, is a lot sadder than Libby not having to go to jail.

Update: From the comments in Big Tent's thread: Paris Hilton did more jail time than Scooter.

Update: I wonder how Judge Reggie Walton feels about this. I'm also struck by Bush's hypocrisy over sentencing issues. He complains in his statement that Judge Walton disregarded the Probation Department's recommendation for a below guideline sentence which could have resulted in home detention or probation. Yet just this month he sent the Justice Department minions to Congress urging they increase the number of mandatory minimum offenses which would preclude judges from exercising that option.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Bush.

Another thought: One of the reasons I was late coming to the news is that I've spent the day writing briefs in two cases asking for sentences below the guidelines. Both cases involve non-violent offenses. My clients deserve the commutation more than Libby.

< Congress Should Call Libby To Testify | Patrick Fitzgerald Weighs In on Scooter Libby Commutation >
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  • Display: Sort:
    Keeping Scooter Quiet (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Madison Guy on Mon Jul 02, 2007 at 07:28:58 PM EST
    "I respect the jury's verdict," George Bush said, speaking oxymoronically as he announced his soon-to-be-notorious Monday Night Massacre of justice. This is no misdemeanor, it's a high crime. It's time to move impeachment to the front burner and turn up the heat.

    Comment From Law Student (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Jul 02, 2007 at 07:40:34 PM EST
    The commenter who calls himself "law student" posted this. I had to delete it because the it didn't fit within the space of the comment box and skewed the site.

    Bush Then vs. Bush Now

    2004 "If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. If the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of."

    2005 "If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration."

    2007 Someone in Bush's administration is convicted by a jury of his peers and sentenced.  Bush commutes the sentence.

    I can't say i expected otherwise, but it is rather pathetic, especially considering bush ran a big part of his 2004 campaign on the "kerry is a flip-flopper" ticket.  

    thanks (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by lawstudent on Mon Jul 02, 2007 at 08:28:06 PM EST
    for reposting that.  i don't know what happened with the formatting?

    Now I completely understand all the furrows (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jul 02, 2007 at 08:53:11 PM EST
    in my Aunt's brow everytime someone says Nixon around her.

    Nice... (none / 0) (#5)
    by desertswine on Mon Jul 02, 2007 at 08:29:54 PM EST
    Neocon warmonger Libby walks, and the other neocon warmonger Wolfowitz land a job with the American Enterprise Institute.

    Wow (none / 0) (#6)
    by downtownted on Mon Jul 02, 2007 at 08:51:07 PM EST
    pretty clear most don't get it. Commutation now so Libby spends no time in jail. Pardon in December 2008. Allows the Bushies and their ilk, some of whom  post on this blog, to comment on how their President, and their Vice-President, respects the rule of law; blaw, blaw, balw, and etc., etc., etc. And we may get some bs about the fine and the law license.  Stop me before I gag.

    Time to reverse the Abrams precedent (none / 0) (#8)
    by yudel on Mon Jul 02, 2007 at 10:30:48 PM EST
    In the '90s, Iran-Contra criminal Elliot Abrams was able to rehabilitate himself through the American Jewish Committee... and was allowed to get away with it.

    IANAL, but I don't see why Libby and his family should not be reminded of Libby's criminal status on a daily basis. All decent people should shun the Libby family... and shun those who refuse to shun him.

    As John Dean says ... (none / 0) (#9)
    by chemoelectric on Mon Jul 02, 2007 at 11:31:37 PM EST
    As John Dean has said, if Bush's group is smart they know that maneuvering to get pardons was among the obstructions of justice prosecuted in the Watergate scandal, and won't risk the same. So what we get is whatever seems the least risk to Bush, regardless of the risk to Libby. I don't think this was a deal made with Libby, but rather was the minimum judged necessary to keep any fear of prison from causing Libby to repent.

    They're also pathologically afraid of oaths ... (none / 0) (#10)
    by Ellie on Mon Jul 02, 2007 at 11:44:44 PM EST
    ... and transcripts (ie, being held to their word), preferring to [plead / obscure / lie about] their "case" in the media, and to make up the rules as they go along (ie, "moral values", "higher authority").

    They not only plugged up the vulnerabilities in the Watergate corruption, but the corrupt abuse of judicial and other govt. powers in their witchhunt to take down Clinton.

    And isn't it time someone reminded them that they ran on being better than Clinton, but all they've done for two adminsitrations is whine that Clinton did something similar (only not quite) than the egregious abuse of authority they're doing now?

    I don't know how anyone who supports this can live with their own stench.