Sen. SCHUMER: Under commutation, the person who’s commuted has much greater Fifth Amendment rights, and so it means that if there were a pardon, Libby could be called before Congress to testify on a whole bunch of things. Commutation makes it much, much harder to do that. And I think that’s an unspoken reason why the president did this.
AXELROD: You’re saying that commutation…
Sen. SCHUMER: Let me just say one other thing.
AXELROD: Senator Schumer, just let me make sure I got my arms around this.
Sen. SCHUMER: Yeah.
AXELROD: You’re saying what a commutation does is, in essence, insulate the White House further from Scooter Libby being a…
Sen. SCHUMER: To a far greater extent, yes. To a far greater extent than pardon, commutation, you’re allowed to keep your Fifth Amendment rights and, therefore, you can ask — you have — you don’t have to answer many questions at all. And I think that may be one of the reasons here that they commuted rather than pardoned. Most Republicans, as Orrin said, preferred pardon.
George Bush commuted Scooter’s sentence rather than pardoning him to Shut. Him. Up. The notion that he did it to “split the difference” and respect the jury’s decision is just absurd. He did it to cover his own tracks, which is exactly why Congress should be looking into the whole matter.
Good for Chuck to getting that message out there.