Bush: My decision was the right decision

But the president won't rule out a pardon for Libby, either.

By Tim Grieve

Published July 3, 2007 5:16PM (EDT)

George W. Bush has just made his first public comments about his decision to commute the sentence handed down to Scooter Libby. While we'd never suggest that the president might dip so low as to use wounded troops as a political shield, he did say what he said immediately after visiting injured soldiers at Walter Reed.

But we digress.

Reporter: Mr. President, are you willing to rule out that you will eventually pardon Scooter Libby?

Bush: I -- first of all, I had to make a very difficult decision. I weighed this decision carefully. I thought that the jury verdict should stand. I felt the punishment was severe. So I made a decision that would commute his sentence but leave in place a serious fine and probation. As to the future, I, you know, rule nothing in and nothing out.

Reporter: Mr. President, federal sentencing guidelines call for jail time in these kinds of cases of perjury and obstruction of justice. Why do you feel otherwise? And are you worried that this decision sends a signal that you won't go to jail if you lie to the FBI?

Bush: I took this decision very seriously on Mr. Libby. I considered his background, his service to the country, as well as the jury verdict. I felt like the jury verdict ought to stand. And I felt like some of the punishments that the judge determined were adequate should stand. But I felt like the 30-month sentencing was severe. And I made a judgment, a considered judgment, that I believe is the right decision to make in this case. I stand by it.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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