Monday, July 02, 2007

Bush and friends

By Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 3, 2007; A01

President Bush limited his deliberations over commuting the jail term of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby to a few close aides, opting not to consult with the Justice Department and rebuffing efforts by close friends to lobby on Libby's behalf, administration officials and people close to Bush said yesterday.

"We were all told to stay away from it," said an old Bush friend from Texas who is close to Libby and would not speak for attribution. "When we called over there, they said the president is well aware of the situation, so don't raise it. None of us lobbied him because they told us not to."

For the first time in his presidency, Bush made a decision to commute a sentence without going through a process of running requests through lawyers at the Justice Department, White House officials said. He also did not ask the chief prosecutor in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, for his input, as routinely happens in cases routed through the Justice Department's pardon attorney.

"Executive clemency is the president's exclusive power under the Constitution, and there are precedents for exercising that power without going through the pardon attorney process," said Bush spokesman Tony Fratto.

And then, of course, there was Elliot Abrams.
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