President Bush said he commuted the “excessive” 30-month sentence of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby for lying in the CIA leak case because of his “exceptional public service” and lack of a criminal record. Bush did not grant a full pardon, which was sought by some conservatives and would have erased his conviction, reports the Washington Post. Libby still must pay a $250,000 fine and will remain on probation for two years.
Law Prof. Douglas Berman of Ohio State University called the action “hypocritical and appalling from a president whose Justice Department is always fighting” attempts by judges and lawmakers to lower the punishment called for under federal sentencing guidelines. Berman said Bush’s message amounted to “My friend Scooter shouldn’t have to serve 30 months in prison because I don’t want him to.” Margaret Colgate Love, the pardon attorney in the Justice Department from 1990 to 1997 called Bush’s action “very unusual” and recalled that her office would not consider applications for a commutation “unless the person had already started serving his sentence.”