Bush breaks with tradition of pardons and ticks off Democrats
July 3, 2007
President Bush commuted the sentence of Lewis “Scooter” Libby yesterday sparing him of 2 1/2 years in prison but leaving penalties in place. Under the Bush decision Libby still has to pay a $250,000 fine and remain on probation. Democrats reacted angrily saying the decision is out of line with the mass-pardon trend begun by former President William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton.
Democrats cited Clinton’s long list of pardons as precedent and demanded that Bush get with the tradition. “President Clinton pardoned drug dealers, arms traffickers’ and folks who lied to Grand Jury’s,” said Nancy Pelosi. “I can’t believe that Bush is only willing to commute a prison term for a guy who has one felony.” Pelosi urged President Bush to reconsider his decision.
In 2005 Libby was charged with leaking the identity of a CIA agent Valerie Plame. He was found guilty in 2006. Since that time pressure has been ramping up against the Bush Administration for being too “open and transparent.” Presidential candidate John Edwards (D-N.C.) said, “Only a president clinically incapable of understanding would think that identity disclosure is worse than arms dealing. I can’t believe he’s making the guy pay out cash money and remain on probation. I’m thinking of starting a “free Libby” campaign.”
When pressed on the decision President Bush said that he may reconsider and bow to Democrat pressure to issue Libby a full pardon.
Earlier today Fox News correspond Laurie Dhue asked former President Clinton his view of the Bush clemency compared to his own mass-pardon approach. Reportedly Clinton replied, “Hey babe, what’s shak’in.”
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