George W. Bush: Dick Cheney Was Angry I Didn't Pardon Scooter Libby

In an interview that aired on NBC's "Today Show" Monday, Former President George W. Bush said his decision not to pardon former Vice Presidential aide Scooter Libby in 2008 did not sit well with former Vice President Dick Cheney.

"Scooter is a loyal American who worked for Vice President Cheney who got caught up in this Valerie Plame case and was indicted and convicted," Mr. Bush told NBC's Matt Lauer. Mr. Bush noted that while he chose to commute Libby's sentence, Cheney "wanted more."

"He wanted me to pardon him," Mr. Bush said. "It was the last decision of the presidency, really. I chose to let the jury verdict stand after some serious deliberation, and the Vice President was angry." (Watch the clip at left.)

In 2007, Libby was convicted in four felony charges related to the 2003 leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity, a leak thought to be a politically-motivated attack on her husband, Joseph Wilson. Wilson, a diplomat who had looked into alleged links between weapons components in Africa and Iraq, voiced his belief that the Bush administration "manipulate intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs to justify an invasion of Iraq." (The incident is dramatized in the new movie "Fair Game.")

Libby was sentenced to thirty months in prison. He ultimately avoided jail time thanks to Mr. Bush, who commuted his sentence to $250,000 in fines and two years of probation.

Mr. Bush, who was on the "Today Show" promoting his memoir "Decision Points," wrote in the book that he had considered dropping Cheney as his 2004 running mate in order to demonstrate that he was in charge. He suggested Cheney "had become a lightning rod for criticism from the media and the left" who "was seen as dark and heartless - the Darth Vader of the administration."

Mr. Bush said on "Today" that although he "was a little concerned at one time" about the status of his relationship with Cheney, the two are now on good terms. "I'm pleased to report...we are friends today," Bush said.

"It was a hard decision to make," he said of his handling of the Libby situation. "But that's what you do when you're President: You make hard decisions."

"Decision Points" hits stores on Tuesday.


Lucy Madison
Lucy Madison is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.

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