Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rove on Libby, Bush and Pardons

Question: You write that you keep a clipping about Scooter Libby's case to remind yourself of the cost of what happened. We've read that President Bush and Vice President Cheney argued about whether or not there should be a pardon for Libby.

Mr. Rove: I don't know if I would say argued. I'm not sure I would depict it as an argument. I was not there, but there was a discussion.

Question: Did you have a position?

Mr. Rove: This is an intense personal decision by the chief executive. I do know this: Governor Bush was loath to substitute his judgment as a governor for that of the legal system. The pardon power, which for a governor of Texas like the pardon power of the president is unlimited power, frankly concerns him. It's in the constitutions, the state and the national constitutions, but as a result, he is reluctant to exercise it. What I thought was extraordinary about what President Bush did was having this beliefthat absent compelling evidence of a miscarriage of justice that he is loath to substitute his opinion for that of a judge and a jury, that he stepped into the Libby matter and said I'm going to commute the sentence and declare an end to this. It's over. I'm not going to substitute my judgment for that of a judge and a jury absent compelling evidence of a miscarriage of judgment, but I am going to say that the judicial system imposed too serious a penalty.

Question: Do you think he should have gone further and gone for the pardon?

Mr. Rove: I'm going to respect his decision because he was involved intimately in the details of the case and had access to things I didn't have access to. Again, I do think this case shows the difficulty of the criminal justice system being used to referee political disputes. We diminish the criminal justice system when we use it to referee political disputes and we unnecessarily penalize political actors when we do. It went on far too long, exacted too high a cost from everyone involved. And for what reason?

See the complete interview in Pittsburgh Post here.

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