Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says President Bush made a perfectly legal move in wiping out the prison sentence for ex-White House aide "Scooter" Libby, but Grassley, a Republican, says it’s –not– an action he would have taken.
Grassley says, "If I were president of the United States, I wouldn’t have considered any action until a court appeal is done. I know that he didn’t want to wait that long and I know he only commuted the terms of the sentence behind bars."
Lewis "Scooter" Libby was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison in the C-I-A leak case after his conviction on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. Grassley says President Bush has used his Constitution-given powers to eliminate that prison term, though he stopped short of issuing a full pardon.
Grassley says: "There’s still a substantial fine to pay and probably the worst punishment of all for a lawyer, particularly a good lawyer like Scooter was, he’s not going to be able to practice law anymore." Libby will still face two years of probation, in addition to the quarter-million dollar fine.
Grassley acknowledges Bush’s gesture was fully within his constitutional abilities, calling it "a carry-over from old England when kings could do that," but Grassley still thinks the president may’ve jumped the gun. "There’s still plenty of penalties, but I would not have made a decision on any one of those until after the appeal was done, "Grassley says, "I don’t know when that’s going to be but obviously, the president is pre-empting part of the appeal."
Campaigning in Des Moines on Monday night, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said President Bush’s move throwing out Libby’s prison term was an act of cronyism.
Audio: Senator Chuck Grassley’s comments on Libby case. 1:14 MP#