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Video: Bush: Cheney ‘angry’ I didn’t pardon Libby

  1. Transcript of: Bush: Cheney ‘angry’ I didn’t pardon Libby

    MATT LAUER, co-host: Now our -- to our interview with President George W. Bush , his first since leaving office. He talked extensively about his presidency as he gets set to release his new memoir, " Decision Points," tomorrow. And he told me how his decision not to pardon a type -- a top White House aide almost cost him his friendship with Vice President Dick Cheney . I think, President Bush , you're going to get a lot of attention for a story you put in the book about the last portion of your presidency when you had a decision to make concerning Scooter Libby .

    President GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes.

    LAUER: And he had been convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice and sentenced to 30 years in prison. And you had a choice, you could've done nothing.

    Pres. BUSH: Right.

    LAUER: You could've commuted his sentence or issued a full pardon. You thought long and hard about it.

    Pres. BUSH: I did. Scooter is a loyal American who worked for Vice President Cheney who got caught up in a -- in this Valerie Plame case and was indicted and convicted. And I chose to commute his sentence. I felt he had paid enough of a penalty.

    LAUER: Critics immediately said, you know, if you're loyal to Bush , you don't have to go to prison. So you -- so it didn't come without a price.

    Pres. BUSH: That's right .

    LAUER: And yet Vice President Cheney wanted more.

    Pres. BUSH: He did. He wanted me to pardon him. And this is a decision that was -- it was the last decision of the presidency, really. And I chose to let the jury verdict stand after some serious deliberation. And it -- the vice president was angry and...

    LAUER: Yeah. When you went to him and you told him, you said he was furious. He said, 'I can't believe you're going to leave a soldier on the battlefield.'

    Pres. BUSH: Yeah, he did.

    LAUER: Has your relationship with Dick Cheney ever recovered from failing to give the pardon?

    Pres. BUSH: It has. I'm pleased -- I'm pleased to report it has.

    LAUER: You're friends today?

    Pres. BUSH: We are friends today and he gave a very gracious speech on the way out of town there, at Andrews Air Force Base , and yeah, we are friends. I went by to see him, I've seen him since and talked to him and I'm pleased to report we are. I was a little concerned at one time, but, no, it was a hard decision to make. But that's what you do when you're president, you make hard decisions.

    LAUER: President Bush also took me to the church where he married his wife , Laura , and he talked about he called the most important decision of his life, his decision to quit drinking years ago. In the book, you say, you know, faith is a walk.

    Pres. BUSH: Yeah, it is.

    LAUER: It's a journey and -- toward greater understanding. You said you can't prove that God exists , but that shouldn't be the standard of belief because you also can't prove that God doesn't exist.

    Pres. BUSH: Yeah. Exactly.

    LAUER: What was it in your life, President Bush , that made you re-examine your own faith and take a deeper look at it? Please, have a seat.

    Pres. BUSH: Thank you. I didn't like the person I was. I was drinking a lot. My parents did me a great favor, they planted the seed of faith, but I, you know, I'd go to church so I wouldn't irritate my mother.

    LAUER: President Bush says his faith helped him quit drinking cold turkey just after his 40th birthday.

    Pres. BUSH: Yeah, I'd have a beer and so the book starts out with Laura saying can you tell me a day in which you haven't had a drink?

    LAUER: Right.

    Pres. BUSH: And when you drink too much, the answer's, yes, I can. And then I couldn't remember a day. And you know, I could easily have a beer or two or a martini before dinner, bourbons, B&Bs , I was a drinker. Now I wasn't a knee walking drunk.

    LAUER: You were like a habitual drinker as opposed to an alcoholic.

    Pres. BUSH: Exactly. Nevertheless, in either case, alcohol becomes central to your life and I finally woke up and realized that I did not want to live a life where alcohol was central. And I 'm convinced, I really am convinced, had I not quit drinking, I wouldn't be sitting here as a former president because I chronicle a few incidents...

    LAUER: Sure.

    Pres. BUSH: ...where alcohol made my quick tongue not only quick, but caused me to be stupid.

    LAUER: He'll actually share one of those stories during the interview. You can catch the entire interview with President Bush tonight, it's a one-hour

    prime-time special, "Decision Points: A Conversation with George W. Bush ." It airs at 8, 7 Central time right here on NBC . And then he will be here live in our studio on Wednesday morning. If you'd like to submit a question to President Bush , you can just go to todayshow.com or you can also give it to us on Twitter or Facebook .

TODAY books
updated 11/8/2010 7:41:31 AM ET 2010-11-08T12:41:31

Matt Lauer will sit down with George W. Bush in the former president’s first one-on-one television interview since leaving office. The interview will air Monday, Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. ET as a special primetime “Matt Lauer Reports.” President Bush will then join Lauer live on TODAY on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

Former President George W. Bush says Vice President Dick Cheney angrily confronted him over Bush's decision not to pardon a former vice presidential aide over his role in the case of the leaked identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

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Bush, in an interview aired Monday on TODAY, said Cheney was angry that Bush only commuted the sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, convicted of lying during the leak investigation.

Bush's appearance came as he begins promoting his memoir, "Decision Points." In the book, Bush recounts that a furious Cheney told him: "I can't believe you're going to leave a soldier on the battlefield."

Bush said he worried the incident would fracture his friendship with Cheney. But he said: "I'm pleased to report we are friends today."

More on former President Bush's memoir
Ask former President George W. Bush a question
Bush: I never thought about a drink in White House
Bush gone viral: President's book promoted on YouTube

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Photos: Bush's Legacy

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  1. George W. Bush

    Presidential hopeful George W. Bush waves to a crowd of supporters gathered in Kentucky on July 29, 2000. Bush lost the New Hampshire primary to Sen. John McCain but rebounded to claim the Republican nomination for president in 2000. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Ballot recount

    Broward County, Fla. canvassing board member Judge Robert Rosenberg uses a magnifying glass to examine a disputed ballot cast during the 2000 election. A ballot recount was ordered in parts of Florida following voting machine errors. Both Al Gore and the Florida Supreme Court ordered a recount to determine a winner. For 36 days after the election, the results in Florida remained in doubt, and so did the winner of the presidency. Bush emerged victorious when the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5 to 4 ruling, put an end to the ballot counting. (Alan Diaz / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Bush wins in 2000

    George W. Bush takes the presidential oath of office on Jan. 20, 2001. The president's daughters Jenna and Barbara stand at his side along with their mother Laura. President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore are seen standing on the right. (Doug Mills / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Terror strikes on 9/11

    President Bush stands with firefighter Bob Beck at the World Trade Center in New York, three days after the 9/11 attacks. (Doug Mills / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Troops sent to Afghanistan

    Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld watches television as President Bush announces that U.S. troops are engaging terrorists in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001. Bush sent troops into Afghanistan to hunt for Osama bin Laden and other terrorists linked to the 9/11 attacks. (David Hume Kennerly / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Wanted: Dead or alive

    Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahri are seen at an undisclosed location in this television image broadcast on Oct. 7, 2001. Bin Laden praised God for the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. In the days following the attack, President Bush named bin Laden the prime suspect in the 9/11 attacks. (Al Jazeera via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. U.S. detains suspects

    U.S. Military Police guard detainees in orange jumpsuits on Jan. 11, 2002 in a holding area at Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The legality of holding suspected terrorists indefinitely at the Guantanamo Bay facility has become a lightning rod of controversy. More than 750 detainees have been held there since 2001. (Shane T. McCoy / U.S. Navy via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Bush declares an 'axis of evil'

    In his first State of the Union address, President Bush declares that an 'axis of evil' consisting of North Korea, Iran, and Iraq was 'arming to threaten the peace of the world.' (Paul J .Richards / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Strong allies

    President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair deliver statements to the media at Camp David on Sept. 7, 2002. Blair was an ally to Bush and supported his decision to intervene in Iraq. (Paul J. Richards / AFP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Powell addresses the U.N.

    U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell addresses a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 14, 2003. Powell was tasked with presenting evidence that Iraq was harboring weapons of mass destruction in order to get a U.N. resolution authorizing the use of military force. (Kathy Willens / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Baghdad falls

    Iraqi civilians and U.S. soldiers pull down a statue of Saddam Hussein in downtown Baghdad on April 9, 2003. The statue fell more than two weeks after U.S. forces invaded Iraq and started a hunt for Saddam Hussein. (Jerome Delay / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Mission accomplished?

    On May 1, 2003, President Bush declared the end of major combat in Iraq aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Torture at Abu Ghraib

    This photo taken in late 2003 shows an unidentified detainee standing on a box with a bag on his head and wires attached to him at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Accounts of abuse and torture of prisoners at the U.S.-run prison came to the public's attention in 2004. Seventeen soldiers and officers were removed from duty and seven were sent to prison for the treatment of prisons at Abu Ghriab. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Bush, Kerry debate

    President George W. Bush and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry face off during the second presidential debate at Washington University on Oct. 8, 2004. Bush defeated Kerry in the 2004 presidential election. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Voting in Iraq

    A woman displays her ink-stained finger after voting in Iraq on Jan. 30, 2005. The 2005 vote was the first free, democratic election to be held in Iraq in 50 years. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Bush's boys

    From left, Press Secretary Scott McClellan, political strategist Karl Rove, Vice President Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby, White House communications director Dan Bartlett and Vice President Dick Cheney listen to the president deliver a speech in the Rose Garden on July 1, 2005. Since this photo was taken, McClellan has stepped down, Rove left his post and Libby was convicted of obstruction of justice, perjury and lying in the investigation of the leaking of a CIA operative's name. (Stephen Crowley / The New York Times via Redux) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Saddam on trial

    Saddam Hussein addresses the court during his trial in Baghdad, Iraq Thursday Dec. 22, 2005. Saddam and his co-defendants are charged with ordering the killing of more than 140 Shiite men in the town of Dujail, following an assasination attempt on Saddam in July 1982. (AP Photo/John Moore, Pool) (John Moore / Pool via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Hurricane Katrina

    In this photo taken on Aug. 30, 2005, a victim of Hurricane Katrina is evacuated by helicopter over the devastation caused by the high winds and heavy flooding in the greater New Orleans area. President Bush was sharply criticized for what some called his lethargic response to the natural disaster. (Vincent Laforet / Pool via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. No Child Left Behind

    President Bush delivers a speech on education at an elementary school outside of Baltimore on Jan. 9, 2006. The 'No Child Left Behind Act' was aimed at closing the achievement gap between low-income students and their richer counterparts. It was one of the big tenets of Bush's domestic agenda and was signed into law in early 2002. (Evan Vucci / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. New Supreme Court

    Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts walk down the steps of the court house on Feb. 16, 2006. President Bush initially nominated Roberts to replace the retiring Sandra Day O'Connor, but when Chief Justice William Rehnquist died, Bush withdrew that nomination and nominated Roberts to be Chief Justice. The president then nominated Alito to fill O'Connor's seat. (Alex Wong / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Bush in India

    The president is surrounded by Indian women after watching a women's discussion group in Hyderabad, India on March 3, 2006. Bush made a three-day visit to India to renew ties with the nuclear nation. (Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Prescription drug reform

    Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt points to a laptop computer screen as President Bush watches volunteers and seniors use the internet to sign up for prescription drugs. Bush's program provides prescription drug benefits to Medicare recipients through private insurance companies. (Paul J. Richards / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Talks with Pakistan and Afghanistan

    President Bush appears with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the Rose Garden on Sept. 27, 2006. The trio met to discuss cross-border relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. (Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Gonzales resigns

    U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announces his resignation during a news conference at the Justice Department on Aug. 27, 2007. Gonzales stepped down amid controversy over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. (Jim Bourg / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Rice talks Mideast peace

    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erek at the White House on Nov. 28, 2007. Bush invited the two leaders to Washington to initiate a new round of peace negotiations. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Border fence

    A metal fence forms a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border. The fence was a result of the Secure Fence Act, calling for 698 miles of border fences to try to keep illegal immigrants from entering the U.S. Critics argue that extensive fencing damages fragile desert environments and divides border neighborhoods. (David McNew / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Kyoto protests

    Thousands of climate change protestors march toward the U.S. Embassy in London on Dec. 8, 2007. Mass demonstrations have occurred worldwide since President Bush opposed signing the Kyoto Protocol which seeks to impose mandatory targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (Andy Rain / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. U.S.-Russian relations

    Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Bush talk during a bilateral meeting at Putin's summer retreat in Sochi, Russia on April 6, 2008. (Artyom Korotayev / Epsilon via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Economy in crisis

    The president walks alongside Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission Christopher Cox and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson prior to a speech on the economy on Sept. 19, 2008. The president called together his economic team to discuss a weakening economy and a global financial crisis. (Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Hail and farewell

    The president hugs first lady Laura Bush as he gives an emotional wave of appreciation after speaking on the transition to administration employees on Nov. 6, 2008, on the South Lawn of the White House. (Paul J. Richards / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Changing of the guard

    President George W. Bush,first lady Laura Bush, Michele Obama and president-elect Barack Obama stand outside the White House on Nov. 10, 2008. Obama visited the White House at the invitation of Bush ahead of his Jan. 20, 2009 inauguration. (Tim Sloan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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