U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, D-MD, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today denounced the President’s decision to commute the prison sentence of the former Chief of Staff to the Vice President, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, calling it a “travesty that sends the message that the White House and its employees are above the law and do not have to face the consequences of their illegal actions.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit had ruled unanimously earlier in the day that Mr. Libby could not delay his 2-1/2 year prison sentence while he appeals his conviction.
The Senator issued the following statement in reaction to the President’s action:
“We are a nation of laws and a jury of his peers convicted Mr. Libby of the serious charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I am shocked and greatly disappointed that President Bush has decided to commute the sentence of former Chief of Staff to the Vice President.
President Bush repeatedly said that he would punish those who leaked classified information or who did not fully cooperate with the Justice Department’s investigation into the leaking of Valerie Plame’s name as an undercover CIA agent.
The Justice Department appointed a Special Counsel to independently prosecute this case because it involved such a high-ranking executive branch official.
“Today President Bush has given special treatment to one of the Vice President’s top political and legal advisors.
At the very minimum the President should have followed his own promise not to intervene in this case until Mr. Libby’s appeals were exhausted.
The President has set a dangerous double standard that sends the message that high-ranking political appointees in the Bush Administration are above the law.”