On Monday night, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee went on BIll O'Reilly's show to discuss the clemency he granted nearly a decade ago to Maurice Clemmons -- now a suspect in the fatal shooting of four police officers.
Although many conservative bloggers hammered Huckabee for commuting Clemmons, O'Reilly was forgiving of the former governor, who's a Fox News colleague. After thanking Huckabee for "being a stand-up guy," O'Reilly went on to offer Huckabee a pardon: the cop killings were "not your fault, governor."
Transcript and video below:
O'REILLY: Thanks for being a stand-up guy, Governor. A lot of people want an explanation. This is a bad hombre, and you let him out. Why?
HUCKABEE: Well, Bill, first of all -- the tragedy of this -- if I could have known 9 years ago this guy was capable of something of this magnitude, obviously I would have never granted the commutation.
It's sickening. The two people I value most in this country are soldiers and police officers, because they're the only things standing between our freedom and total anarchy. And in the case of this particular individual -- he was sentenced to 108 years for two crimes when he was 16. The post-prison transfer board -- I'll be very brief about this, but to understand -- they recommended to me as governor for his commutation, which didn't release him. It simply cut his sentence to 47 years. That would give him parole eligibility.
That was the commutation. I'm responsible for that. And it's not something I'm happy about, at this particular moment.
O'REILLY: Now did you study it...
O'REILLY: I mean, look. governors have a lot of this stuff. Did you study this guy? Did you spend a lot of time on it, or did you just take the advice of your advisers?
HUCKABEE: No, I looked at every case file, and I had about 1,200 of these a year. This is what people need to understand. 92% of the time, they were denied. But in this case, the judge in the case was also recommending, and the parole board -- on a 5-0 vote -- because at the age of 16, the sentence he got for the crimes he committed back in 1989 was excessive for anything else that....
O'REILLY: [interrupting] Okay he was a bad guy in prison, and the prosecutors told you. So they say "Hey, this is a hard-core guy. This isn't some kid who went wrong".
HUCKABEE: We didn't have any information from the prosecutors. We sent notices, which is the practice in Arkansas, to five different people: The Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the prosecutor, the judge, and law enforcement. The only official we have record of getting notification of from was the judge, who agreed with the recommendation of the parole board.
So that's what we acted upon. What I acted upon -- I'm responsible for that, and you know, my heart is broken for four families tonight...
O'REILLY: [interrupting] Well, it's not your fault, Governor. I mean, look, you've got 1,200 of these cases a year. You gotta look at them. I'm not saying it's your fault. I don't think anyone watching thinks it's your fault.
But the judges in Washington state, come on. I mean, this guy moves from your state -- Arkansas -- to Washington state and then he racks up 8 felony charges. Eight felonies!