Just hours after a federal appeals panel told I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby to go directly to jail without passing go, President Bush stepped in to commute his sentence, thus setting the former Cheney aide and star of Plamegate free. Libby will still have to pay a $250,000 fine, so look for him on the lecture circuit.
AP via New York Times:
President Bush commuted the sentence of former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter’’ Libby on Monday, sparing him from a 2 1/2-year prison term that Bush said was excessive.
Bush’s move came hours after a federal appeals panel ruled Libby could not delay his prison term in the CIA leak case. That meant Libby was likely to have to report to prison soon and put new pressure on the president, who had been sidestepping calls by Libby’s allies to pardon the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.
“I respect the jury’s verdict,’’ Bush said in a statement. “But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison.’‘