07/06/2007 12:32 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Censuring the President

When Congress returns from the 4th of July recess, I will file a Congressional resolution censuring President George W. Bush for his egregious and politically motivated commutation of Scooter Libby's prison sentence.

I strongly believe that presidential intervention in this case is an unconscionable abuse of authority by George W. Bush. This is a case of a man lying to protect the President from the consequences of an Administration that chose petty political retribution over national security. And these lies are not about some trivial personal issue. These are lies that sent America to war on false pretenses.

Scooter Libby was charged by a special prosecutor appointed by George W. Bush. Libby was found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice by a jury and was appropriately sentenced by a federal judge, also appointed by President Bush. The conviction and sentencing weren't a grave miscarriage of justice by an out-of-control liberal judiciary that had it in for the Bush Administration. The sentence was appropriate for someone who committed the serious crime of perjury to cover up lies made by this administration, lies that go to the heart of President Bush's decision to send American troops to Iraq without justification.

This deceitful chain of events began with the administration's falsifying of intelligence on Iraqi nuclear capabilities in order to drum up support for an invasion of Iraq. Former Ambassador to Gabon Joseph C. Wilson IV was sent by the Bush Administration in 2002 to investigate reports that Niger had sent material for nuclear weapons and equipment to Iraq and returned without
finding any evidence to support such claims. When Wilson spoke out against the Administration's bogus claims, the Bush administration, in an attempt to discredit a career foreign service officer, revealed his wife's identity as a covert CIA agent.

It is clear that the perjury of Mr. Libby in this case effectively protected President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and other administration officials from further scrutiny regarding the clear political retaliation against former Ambassador Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson.

Commuting Libby's sentence is nothing short of political quid pro quo, and Congress must go on record in strong opposition. It is fitting that Congress step forward to express the disgust that Americans rightfully feel toward this contemptible decision. Censuring the president makes the
unequivocal statement that this abrogation of justice will not be tolerated.

The question should not be whether his corrupt and deceitful actions merit removing him from office. That is its own debate, and one that is not likely to reach a consensus anytime soon. On the other hand, censuring the President for rewarding perjury is a clear cut determination that President Bush has lost sight of the rule of law. Congress has a responsibility to send the unequivocal message that the American people are fed up with an Administration that lacks accountability and holds itself above the law.

Republicans argued during the Clinton impeachment that the issue was not sex but was lying under oath. While I vehemently disagree that impeachment was the appropriate response, this President has gone a step further and rewarded someone for lying about a national security matter to protect him and his Administration. When a senior Bush Administration official has
committed a serious crime, President Bush has no business injecting himself in the sentencing determination.

Does the President have the legal authority to commute Libby's prison sentence? Absolutely. Actually, it may be one of the few times in his presidency where Bush is not overstepping his Constitutional authority. The fact remains, however, that this commutation sends the clear message that President Bush values loyalty above the rule of law. And for Congress to
give silent approval would be unforgivable.