On Tuesday, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani said President Bush’s decision to commute former Cheney aide “Scooter” Libby’s 2 1/2 year sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice was “reasonable” and “correct,” despite the fact that the president “quickly made the decision” without consulting the Justice Department or the pardon attorney.
Giuliani hasn’t always believed that such a hasty process was “reasonable” for executive clemency. In 1982, when he was an assistant attorney general in the Reagan DoJ, Giuliani said clemency entailed “a complex, yearlong procedure“:
According to Associate Attorney General Rudolph W. Giuliani, executive clemency involves a great number of people and a complex, yearlong procedure. Every request is subject to a detailed inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which conducts as many as 50 interviews to flesh out each application. That background investigation is as comprehensive as any the bureau conducts on a prospective United States Attorney, Mr. Giuliani said.
The case is next studied by the pardon attorney, who makes a judgment that Mr. Giuliani reviews. His judgment, in turn, goes to Fred Fielding, the White House counsel who re-examines the files and makes his own judgment. Then, according to Mr. Fielding, every request is presented to the President for his concurrence.
In 1982, Giuliani also said that remorse was important for bestowing clemancy. “We also look at the reason for the request and a recognition that the person knows he’s done something wrong,” said Giuliani. In fact, Giuliani even “recommended that the President deny the request of an embezzler who insisted he had committed no crime.”
In 2001, while castigating former President Bill Clinton for pardoning financier Marc Rich, Giuliani said it was important to confer with prosecutors before offering executive clemency:
The op-ed piece in The New York Times raises more questions than it answers. He’s left out the trading with Iraq. Somehow he thinks that a pardon is now intended to determine whether indictments are wrongful enough. But he doesn’t talk to the prosecutor, just the defense lawyers. [Marketplace Morning Report, 2/19/01]
Libby never admitted any guilt nor did Bush consult special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald prior to issuing his commutation. But that didn’t stop Giuliani from ignoring his previous standards and concluding that President Bush acted properly.
UPDATE: Giuliani on Larry King Live in 2001:
I think the questions the former president has created here put in doubt the pardon process, and it’s not just — you’re focusing on the Marc Rich part. He did about 50 that he didn’t run through the Justice Department.
Bush didn’t run the Libby commutation through the Justice Department either.