WASHINGTON -- The Democrat investigating President Bush's decision to erase the prison sentence of a former White House aide said yesterday that there is "the suspicion" the aide might have implicated others in the Bush administration if he served time.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. spoke of "the general impression" that Bush commuted I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr.'s 2 1/2 -year sentence last week in the CIA leak case to keep Libby quiet. The White House said Conyers' claim is baseless.
Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, has scheduled a hearing Wednesday on the matter.
Bush contended that Libby's sentence was too harsh. Libby was convicted of lying and obstructing justice in an investigation into the leak of a CIA officer's identity. The former operative said the White House was trying to discredit her husband, a critic of Bush's Iraq policy.
Conyers, speaking on This Week on ABC, said the hearings would include pardons made by President Bill Clinton, the first President George Bush and possibly other past presidents. In the closing hours of his presidency, Clinton pardoned 140 people, including fugitive financier Marc Rich.
"What we have here - and I think we should put it on the table right at the beginning - is that the suspicion was that if Mr. Libby went to prison, he might further implicate other people in the White House, and that there was some kind of relationship here that does not exist in any of President Clinton's pardons, nor, according to those that we've talked to ... is that it's never existed before, ever," Conyers said.
A White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, said in response: "That's a fairly ridiculous and baseless assertion. It may be impossible to plumb the depths of Chairman Conyers' 'suspicions,' but we can hope this one is near the bottom."
A Republican on Conyers' committee took issue with the investigation into Bush's decision in the Libby case.
"It's clearly within the authority of the president," said Rep. Chris Cannon, a Utah Republican, appearing on Fox News Sunday.
© 2007 The Associated Press