Leahy: Bush Bought Scooter's Silence With Commutation

Sen. Pat Leahy wants to have a chat with Patrick Fitzgerald and then echoed what Schumer said on Face the Nation and acknowledged that commuting Libb

leahy-pat.jpg Sen. Pat Leahy wants to have a chat with Patrick Fitzgerald and then echoed what Schumer said on Face the Nation and acknowledged that commuting Libby's sentence was a great way to buy his silence.

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LEAHY: No, because he's got a fifth amendment right that he can still do. I mean, this was, actually in my view, a blatant way of guaranteeing that Scooter Libby would not talk about the things that were done, you know, some of the misleading information given out by Vice President Cheney and the president. They led us into this war in Iraq, and they bought his silence. I can understand why the prosecutor was so angry about it.

Jane Hamsher:

George Bush commuted Scooter’s sentence rather than pardoning him to Shut. Him. Up. The notion that he did it to “split the difference” and respect the jury’s decision is just absurd. He did it to cover his own tracks, which is exactly why Congress should be looking into the whole matter.

I couldn't agree more. (transcript below the fold)

Do you have a problem, Senator Leahy, with anything the president decided in terms of the legality of what he did? He was within his right to commute the sentence.

LEAHY: The president has a constitutional right or has the constitutional power to commute sentences of anybody he wants. I wish he had shown more constitutional responsibility. Just as I was critical of some of the pardons by President Clinton, former President Bush or President Reagan, I've said they have the power to do it, but I didn't think they used good judgment.

It was not a surprise he did this. It was generally assumed, certainly in Washington, by Republicans I talked with, that the president would give Scooter Libby a "get out of jail free" card. It's interesting he commuted the sentence. He didn't give an out and out pardon. That way Scooter Libby can take the fifth amendment if he wants as far as any testimony before (inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)


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BLITZER: Well, I was going to ask you, Senator Leahy. Do you want to hold hearings on this whole issue?

LEAHY: No, because he's got a fifth amendment right that he can still do. I mean, this was, actually in my view, a blatant way of guaranteeing that Scooter Libby would not talk about the things that were done, you know, some of the misleading information given out by Vice President Cheney and the president. They led us into this war in Iraq, and they bought his silence. I can understand why the prosecutor was so angry about it.

BLITZER: You're talking about Patrick Fitzgerald, your colleague, Senator...

LEAHY: Also the fact...

BLITZER: I was going to say...

LEAHY: Also the fact that he was given, when the president talked about a severe sentence, he was given at the low end of the sentencing guidelines. People have been given much, much harsher sentences than he was given.

BLITZER: Senator Schumer of the Judiciary Committee wants you to call Patrick Fitzgerald to testify before your committee on this whole issue. Do you want to do that?

LEAHY: That's something I would discuss with Senator Specter before I did, but I know how concerned Mr. Fitzgerald is.

And we may very well find ourselves going down that path. It would do no good to call Scooter Libby. His silence has been bought and paid for, and he would just take the fifth.

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