Recently instead of playing golf Donald Trump has been handing out pardons, lots and lots of pardons. So which outstanding members of the American community has he decided to exercise the prerogative of mercy and are there any common features amongst them?
I should start by noting that the constitution gives the POTUS the power to “grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment”. The power is very wide although it applies only to federal crimes.
Amongst those who were pardoned:
Trump had previously pardoned Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with a Russian official.
The others recently pardoned appear to be more clearing of the decks type pardons.
One person close to Trump who he has not pardoned is his former lawyer Michael Cohen. Maybe it is because Cohen has been saying what he really thinks about Trump. Such as in this article from the BBC:
Donald Trump behaves like a mobster and has “a low opinion of all black people”, according to the US president’s former lawyer Michael Cohen.
The allegations come from Cohen’s new book, Disloyal: A Memoir, written during his jail term for Trump campaign finance violations, among other crimes.
Cohen claims Mr Trump also made racist comments about Nelson Mandela and Hispanics.
The White House says Cohen is lying.
“Cohen is a disgraced felon and disbarred lawyer, who lied to Congress,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement at the weekend. “He has lost all credibility, and it’s unsurprising to see his latest attempt to profit off of lies.”
In the book, Cohen alleges that Mr Trump is “guilty of the same crimes” that landed him in prison, and calls his former boss “a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a conman”. He said he had the mentality of a “mob boss”.
In the next couple of weeks do not be surprised if Rudy Giuliani or Trump’s family or even Trump himself gets a pardon. He has been thinking about it. From Maggie Haberman at the New York Times:
President Trump has discussed with advisers whether to grant pre-emptive pardons to his children, to his son-in-law and to his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and talked with Mr. Giuliani about pardoning him as recently as last week, according to two people briefed on the matter.
Mr. Trump has told others that he is concerned that a Biden Justice Department might seek retribution against the president by targeting the oldest three of his five children — Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump — as well as Ms. Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner, a White House senior adviser.
Donald Trump Jr. had been under investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, for contacts that the younger Mr. Trump had had with Russians offering damaging information on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign, but he was never charged. Mr. Kushner provided false information to federal authorities about his contacts with foreigners for his security clearance, but was given one anyway by the president.
The nature of Mr. Trump’s concern about any potential criminal exposure of Eric Trump or Ivanka Trump is unclear, although an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney into the Trump Organization has expanded to include tax write-offs on millions of dollars in consulting fees by the company, some of which appear to have gone to Ms. Trump.
Before Trump the thought of a President pardoning himself would have been impossible to imagine. But there again we have not previously had in the White House such an extreme uber narcissistic spoilt child.
Lloyd Green in the Guardian explains the pardons in these terms:
By any measure, Trump has set a new standard for debasing the presidency. As he stares at an ignominious exit, the ex-reality show host has even managed to make Clinton’s pardon of Rich look quaint. And that takes effort.
Yet unlike the Clinton pardon of Rich, a fugitive financier, which sparked a review by James Comey and a barrage of Republican condemnation, among the GOP in Congress Trump’s pardons have elicited little more than a yawn. With the exception of Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who called the pardons “rotten to the core”, they have been met with a collective shrug.
None of this should come as a surprise. Trump has recreated the GOP in his image. Republicans know he commands the party’s base, and they stand one primary away from oblivion. In the end, what’s a pardon between friends?
Hopefully the end is in sight for the Trump presidency. The Electoral College vote is counted by a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021 and Biden’s inauguration is set for January 20, 2021. But the one thing that I think we can expect is that Trump will not go quietly. Hang onto your hats, this could get wild.