The president’s action saved Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff from a two-and-a-half year prison sentence for his involvement in the CIA leak case. His $250,000 fine and two-year probation period remain in place.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., was one of the first to respond: ” One of the principles our forefathers fought for was equal justice under the law. This commutation completely tramples on that principle.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also came down on the move. “The president’s commutation of Scooter Libby’s prison sentence does not serve justice, condones criminal conduct is a betrayal of trust of the American people.” She added that 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.”
Libby was convicted of lying and obstruction of justice in the investigation into the media leak of Plame’s name. He is appealing his conviction.
Former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., a 2008 presidential contender, agreed with President Bush’s decision, saying, “I am very happy for Scooter Libby. … This will allow a good American who has done a lot for his country, to resume his life.”
Those supporters who spoke out, like Thompson, said they felt with the prison sentence, the punishment did not fit the crime.
“The prison sentence was overly harsh,” said Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. “The sentence was based on charges that had nothing to do with the leak of the identity of a CIA operative.”
In a public opinion poll on SurveyUSA.com, 21 percent of those surveyed agreed with the president’s commutation. Sixty percent felt he should have left the prison sentence in place, and 17 percent felt he should have given Libby a full pardon.