Fitzgerald on Libby’s Commutation

by Sean Hackbarth

Via Byron York at The Corner:

We fully recognize that the Constitution provides that commutation decisions are a matter of presidential prerogative and we do not comment on the exercise of that prerogative.

We comment only on the statement in which the President termed the sentence imposed by the judge as “excessive.” The sentence in this case was imposed pursuant to the laws governing sentencings which occur every day throughout this country. In this case, an experienced federal judge considered extensive argument from the parties and then imposed a sentence consistent with the applicable laws. It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals. That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing.

Although the President’s decision eliminates Mr. Libby’s sentence of imprisonment, Mr. Libby remains convicted by a jury of serious felonies, and we will continue to seek to preserve those convictions through the appeals process.

It would be nice for President Bush to explain himself a little more, but 1.) he’s not very good at communicating; and 2.) he has no reason to say any more about this. What’s done is done.

Ace takes the Sandy Berger angle:

Suggestion: Bush should have reduced the fine to a more reasonable $50,000, which just so happens to be how much Sandy Berger was fined for stealing and destroying classified documents and lying about it to investigators (he wasn’t charged for the latter, but subsequent revelations has made it clear he did just that).

Making the fine $50,000 would have been more in line with Libby’s transgressions, and it would have made it harder for Democrats to argue against it. The penalty — no jail time, $50,000, probation — would have been so similar to Berger’s that one could scarcely mention it without also mentioning Berger.

At least in Berger’s case we had a crime committed in the first place, not one from a suspect illegally defending himself.

I’ll end my coverage of this tonight with ScrappleFace:

Ending years of speculation, President George Bush today commuted the 30 month prison sentence of former vice presidential aide I. Lewis ‘Scooter‘ Libby, yet urged a nervous nation to remain calm even though Mr. Libby is “on the loose.”

“Even with this convicted criminal roaming the streets,” said Mr. Bush, “The neighborhoods of our homeland remain safer than a lot of places in the world.”

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3 Responses to “Fitzgerald on Libby’s Commutation”


Amen to the comments comparing this to Sandy Berger. But… in that case it was ALSO the Bush Justice Dept that took the path of leniency, so one wonders how many quids and quos moved around on these two cases.


I think what needs to be remembered here is that Scooter failed to meet a special criteria in order for Bush to refuse commutation of his sentence–he was not a retarded killer on death row. Had he met that qualification, Bush would have let him fry.


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