01/04/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Durbin Defends Ryan Commutation Effort

Senator Dick Durbin on Thursday defended his decision to send a letter to President Bush urging the commutation of jailed former Governor George Ryan:

"I did not quietly send a letter and slink away in the shadows," Durbin said during a news conference in Chicago on the foreclosure crisis. "I had a news conference and I answered all the questions and explained why I did it."

Asked how he would explain his choice to the politicians-- including many of his fellow Democrats-- who have publicly disagreed with the move, the Tribune quoted Durbin as saying:

"I will just say that I made this decision personally, I never asked for any elected officials to join me and support me in this effort, I did not quietly send the letter and schlink away into the shadows. I had a press conference, I answered all the questions and explained why I did it, and I stand by my decision."

The push for Ryan's freedom is a stark contrast to Durbin's strong opposition to President Bush's commutation of former vice presidential aide Scooter Libby. Then, Durbin expressed his outrage at the Bush administration:

"Even Paris Hilton had to go to jail. No one in this administration should be above the law," Durbin was quoted as saying at the time.

On Thursday, Durbin called the Ryan commutation request "a dramatically different matter":

"It's dramatically different, Mr. Libby of course was convicted and didn't spend a day in jail and ended up with a pardon, a full pardon, which is not the circumstance with George Ryan at all," Durbin said.