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Everybody gets a pardon

Written By: - Date published: 11:50 am, January 20th, 2021 - 32 comments
Categories: corruption, Donald Trump, uncategorized, us politics - Tags:

So Donald Trump’s reign is almost over.

For the past four years I have woken daily and wondered what fresh hell offense he has committed.  And most of the time I have been surprised and disturbed.  He was consistently worse than I thought he would be.

Just after his election four years ago I said this:

Negatives? Where do I start. Any lefty who says that a positive is he is not as bad as Clinton will enjoy from me four years of “I told you so”. He will wreck havoc on international relations, a world approach to climate change is pretty well dead, constitutional norms will be destroyed, ethnic relations in the US will be stuffed. His potential to cause harm is massive.

I stand by this comment. Actually with the benefit of hindsight I think it was understated.

So now he is at the end of his reign.  The hope that he would go quietly into the night did not work out so well.  Within the last two weeks he tried to stir up a bunch of fascists to overrun Capitol Hill and potentially take elected members including the Vice President of the United States hostage.  The ends justify the means huh.

But judging from recent events Trump appears to now accept that his reign is over.  So long loser.

It seems that much of his current time is being spent on deciding on who to pardon.

And questions are being asked about if there is a price to pay.

Rudy Guliani has denied receiving any personal benefit.

I was surprised he did not also rule out any possibility that the President or his other cronies may have received compensation.  Because the allegation is that a price tag has been attached to the exercise of the Presidential prerogative of mercy.

From Martin Pengelly at the Guardian:

An associate of Rudy Giuliani told a former CIA officer a presidential pardon was “going to cost $2m”, the New York Times reported on Sunday in the latest bombshell to break across the last, chaotic days of Donald Trump’s presidency.

The report detailed widespread and in some cases lucrative lobbying involving people seeking a pardon as Trump’s time in office winds down. The 45th president, impeached twice, will leave power on Wednesday with the inauguration of Joe Biden.

The former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who was jailed in 2012 for leaking the identity of an operative involved in torture, told the Times he laughed at the remark from the associate of Giuliani, the former New York mayor who as Trump’s personal attorney is reportedly a possible pardon recipient himself.

“Two million bucks – are you out of your mind?” Kiriakou reportedly said. “Even if I had two million bucks, I wouldn’t spend it to recover a $700,000 pension.”

I spent a bit of time earlier researching who Trump had already pardoned and came up with this list:

  • Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort who had been convicted of unregistered lobbying, tax fraud, bank fraud and money laundering.  In words that can only have come from Trump the White House notes claim that “[a]s a result of blatant prosecutorial overreach, Mr. Manafort has endured years of unfair treatment and is one of the most prominent victims of what has been revealed to be perhaps the greatest witch hunt in American history.”
  • Trump’s former campaign advisor Roger Stone who was convicted of lying to Congress and obstructing a congressional investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during 2016.  The White House Notes claim his conviction was the result of “prosecutorial misconduct”.
  • George Papadopoulos, a former campaign adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to federal officials during the Russia investigation.
  • Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer and son-in-law of the Russian billionaire German Khan, who had pleaded guilty to similar charges to Papadopoulos.
  • Margaret Hunter, the wife of Duncan Hunter, the former Republican representative of California, convicted of misusing campaign funds for personal benefit.
  • Four former Blackwater contractors who were convicted on charges related to a 2007 massacre in Iraq. The four men who were part of a security convoy had fired indiscriminately at civilians and killed 14 people including a nine-year-old child.
  • Charles Kushner, Jared’s father, who pleaded guilty to tax evasion and lying to the Federal Election Commission, as well as witness tampering, after he hired a sex worker to seduce his brother in law William Schulder, videotaping the encounter and sending the tape to Schulder’s wife and his sister in an act of retaliation for Schulder, cooperation with the authorities over their investigation into Kushner.
  • Former Republican Reps. Duncan Hunter of California and Chris Collins of New York.  They were two of the earliest GOP lawmakers to back Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Collins was sentenced to jail after admitting he helped his son and others dodge $800,000 in stock market losses when he learned that a drug trial by a small pharmaceutical company had failed. Hunter was jailed after pleading guilty to stealing campaign funds and spending the money on everything from outings with friends to his daughter’s birthday party.
  • Phil Lyman, a Utah state representative who led all-terrain vehicle protest ride in 2014 through a canyon that officials had closed to motorized traffic to protect ruins that are nearly 2,000 years old.
  • Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, convicted of shooting and wounding a Mexican drug smuggler near El Paso, Texas, in 2005.
  • Alfonso Costa, a Pittsburgh dentist who pleaded guilty to health care fraud and who happens to be Ben Carson’s best friend.

There is a lot of speculation who may be the latest recipients of largesse and possibilities mentioned include preemptive pardons for Guliani, for Trump’s family members and even for Trump himself even though there has been strong advice to him not to do this.

Surely he wouldn’t …

Whatever happens I am sure the final list of pardons will get a great deal of attention as possibly his last decision made as POTUS.

And as the sun sets on his disastrous reign there is one thing good that can be said about him, at least he did not start a nuclear war.

32 comments on “Everybody gets a pardon ”

  1. dv 1

    Don't speak too soon.

    “The movement we started, is only just beginning,” Trump said in the farewell speech!!!

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/300209875/us-president-donald-trump-wishes-luck-for-new-administration-in-farewell-speech

    The last lie, or wishful thinking.

    • NZJester 1.1

      There is apparently some talk he is looking at setting up his own political party.

      This could possibly be a good thing as it will likely split off some of the Republican vote giving the Democratic party more seats in future elections.

      I wonder if they will call it the National Socalist Party?

      But then he does love his name on everything so it would more likely be The Trump Party.

  2. solkta 2

    The Whitehouse – where everyone gets a pardon

  3. Siobhan 3

    …like that time Clinton pardoned Marc Rich (plus his own brother, and Patty Hearst), or George H.W. Bush pardoning six people involved in the Iran-Contra arms scandal, or Ford pardoning Nixon, or President Ronald Reagan who pardoned George Steinbrenner, the former owner of the New York Yankees…

    .like all aspects of the American Justice System…Presidential Pardons are something that should be ended ..and replaced with something like ..idk…a vaguely functional Justice System perhaps??

    "In his most controversial final-day pardon, Clinton pardoned billionare fugitive Marc Rich after his ex-wife, Denise Rich, lavishly donated to Democrats.

    The pardon was widely viewed as a legal form of bribery. The New York Times called it “a shocking abuse of presidential power.”

    Rich fled to Switzerland in 1983 after he was indicted for evading $48 million in taxes and buying $200 million of Iranian oil in violation of a US embargo during the 1979 hostage crisis.

    Denise Rich gave more than $1 million to Democrats, including more than $100,000 to support Hillary Clinton’s New York Senate run and $450,000 to Bill Clinton’s presidential library."

    • mickysavage 3.1

      Agreed Clinton's use was a particularly rancid use of the power and that the power should be removed.

      I suspect that tomorrow or later today Trump will make Clinton look semi honourable.

      • Andre 3.1.1

        Removing the power is probably a step too far. Tempering it by requiring a Senate and/or a House and/or Supreme Court vote on each one would be a step towards restoring it back to the original idea that it was to be used in cases of injustice and where it would serve the national interest.

        • Ad 3.1.1.1

          Its a residual power holdover from Kings and monarchical rule.

          No President should have it, and he's debased it so much it should be removed.

          • Andre 3.1.1.1.1

            It's a power that needs to be available to society. There will always be cases where doing the right thing means existing laws will be broken. In recent history, just at top of mind we have the cases of Manning, Snowden, Winner … (Assange not included, in his case what is needed is his extradition request to be dropped with a strong statement that his publishing activities were never grounds to initiate prosecution).

            That all recent presidents have debased it is grounds to modify the power, not junk it entirely.

            • Ad 3.1.1.1.1.1

              Sure a review would be a start.

              But the appropriate delegated power to override injustice is found in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Presidential role should be propose members of that court and no more. It otherwise becomes more and more trial by tv.

              The direct Presidential override of jailed offences just re-politicises what the White House has very limited qualifications to step into. Taking this power away would be one small step in de-politicising the over-politicised U.S. judicial system. It would be very weird to propose that the Presidential over-ride makes the entire justice system more just – and won't make it less imperfect either.

              • Andre

                Nope, definitely not a job for the Supreme Court. Their role is to ensure the compatibility of laws with the Constitution. At best, their role in pardons should be limited to ensuring that a proposed pardon would not go against or weaken the Constitution.

                As I see it, a proper role for a pardon is where applying the laws to someone doing the right thing, or at least not a wrong thing, results in an injustice. To me, that means the pardon process should be driven by entities within the law-making process. Yes, it is political, politics is about changing the laws to better reflect what society wants itself to be. But there is value in keeping the judiciary as much outside of politics as possible. Putting the judiciary in charge of what is an inherently political act would be a step in the wrong direction.

                • Ad

                  That's a much narrower version of what a pardon has been conceived for historically.

                  The thing about Trump is he's shown that even fairly hard norms are easily overridden if you have the strength of personality to do so. That risk is now too great – Trump is the crash that broke all such guardrails.

                  Since he's proven pardons unsuitable for the President, and you believe even the Supreme Court shouldn't overturn bad decisions for individuals, then there is no place for pardons at all.

                  • McFlock

                    Not so sure about that. A power being exercised poorly doesn't necessarily mean that power should be eliminated, or even limited.

                    The primary failure is not the pardon, the primary failure was electing such a base individual into a position of power. But that doesn't mean the democratic process should be eliminated.

                    Sure, pardons are a holdover from monarchies – NZ has a similar process power for the GG. It's a basic backstop if the person did the thing, the thing was illegal, the courts acted properly, but there is some factor that results in an injustice even if everything was done properly.

                    I don't think they should be used as often as the yanks use them, but that's more part of the corrupt system they have, than the existence of that power.

                    But dolt45 has blatantly shown what acts of corruption had been resisted by social norms, and those that had any actual consequences beyond reputation and shame.

                  • RedLogix

                    It's only one small step from that logic to deciding the Presidency, or even the very notion of government itself should be eliminated.

                    Hell, some people do bad things, therefore all people should be eradicated? Clearly not.

                    I'm basically with Andre in this, pardons do serve a useful purpose; that they can be misused (or used in ways some people don't like for political reasons) isn't really grounds to eliminate them. There may be a case for a more considered process, at present Trump bashing out several hundred a day with zero scrutiny is a clear abuse of the process.

                    But is this the biggest problem the US faces right now?

                  • Sanctuary

                    No American of importance would admit it, but the pardon system is a useful tool for a litigious and vengeful country where the courts have been known to be used to jail political opponents for long sentences on (excuse the pun) trumped up charges.

  4. Sanctuary 4

    Biden should pardon all the Capitol protesters on the grounds they were lied to by the office of the president, and tell them to go home and work to make America a better country.

    it would a gesture that would utter confound the far right and smash the conspiracy illusions of millions.

    • Andre 4.1

      I saw a comment recently that what bound together the alt-left convergence moonbats and alt-right convergence wingnuts is that both lots are grievance junkies.

      That their grievances at the top of their minds are almost all totally fictitious, and they really don't seem to care about who and what are creating the problems they should have grievances about, just doesn't seem to get through. A grand gesture like the proposed pardon wouldn't get through either, it would just give the grievance junkies a feeling of resentment that they missed out when the goodies were tossed out.

      • Nic the NZer 4.1.1

        You do realise, a personal filter for dismissing peoples conflicting opinions, is not a viable model of politics.

    • Gabby 4.2

      They'd see it as confirmation of their righteousness.

    • RedLogix 4.3

      Nicely put. Right now the USA needs a reconciliation more than anything else.

      • Phil 4.3.1

        Right now the USA needs a reconciliation more than anything else.

        Nah, mate. What the US needs right now is for Biden/Congress to 'sack up' and properly investigate & prosecute the many varied crimes undertaken by the Trump administration.

        Reconciliation without any form of justice is just an invitation to sweep the entire mess under the rug.

    • froggleblocks 4.4

      Nah, they'd just take that as evidence that the people pardoned were ANTIFA plants and not really MAGAts.

      Also they really really don't deserve it.

  5. Macro 5

    Wow! What a forecast!

    US National weather has issued a freeze warning for afternoon of 20 Jan. It seems the US will be minus "45" across all 50 states!

  6. Macro 6

    So if you steal from Trump supporters – it's OK by Trump.

  7. Stuart Munro 7

    I'm surprised really, that Trump hasn't been selling post-dated pardons – some of these people still have plenty of stuff left to do.

  8. Ad 9

    Aviem Sella – spying for Israel in the United States

    Michael Liberty – campaign finance and related offences. Take a guess.

    Greg Reyes – securities fraud

    Michael Ashley – bank fraud

    Elliott Broidy – Deputy Republican National Congress Chair – unregistered agent of a foreign principal

    Stephen Bannon – fraud in political fundraising

    Johnny Phillips – wire fraud and mail fraud 2016. Take a guess.

    Congressman Robin Hayes – lying to the FBI

    Paul Erikson – neck deep with Russian activists for Trump

    In fact for every minor moron cleared for drug distribution, there's a coal magnate, medical CEO fraudster, or bent politician.

    But nope to Manning or Assange or anyone else like that.

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-press-secretary-regarding-executive-grants-clemency-012021/

    When you misuse a privilege this badly, you should have it taken off you until you get to prove otherwise.

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