Friday, June 8, 2018

The POTUS 'Pardon-a-thon'

Most presidents wait until the end of their time in office before handing out pardons and commutation of sentences. President Trump seems to have made it part of his daily routine.

Okay, so I'm exaggerating somewhat, but let's face it, Trump appears to be make a show of pardoning felons and other miscreants on a regular basis and I'm not so sure they all deserve it.

The plenary power to grant pardons or reprieves are granted to the president by Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the Constitution and limited only to federal offenses. A pardon can't override the impeachment process, so even if the president was able to pardon him or herself, an impeachment would likely ensue. That has never happened before and it's still unclear if a self-pardon is actually permissible.

The first pardon Trump wrote was for Sheriff Joe Arpaio, of Maricopa County, Arizona, on August 25, 2017.  Arpaio was convicted of contempt of court and was awaiting sentencing.  Trump said of the sheriff that he "gave years of admirable service to our nation."

Arpaio is a staunch anti-illegal immigration advocate and got in trouble with the Obama administration for actually following the law. His pardon was, as Martha Stewart would say, "a good thing."

The second person Trump dealt with was to Sholom Rubashkin serving a 27-year sentence for bank fraud. Rubashkin, a father of ten, ran a family-owned kosher meat processing business. His indictment for bank fraud was viewed in  bi-partisan agreement as historically excessive.

Third was Kristian Saucier, the Navy machinist mate who, aboard the USS Alexandria submarine, took photos as mementos of his years aboard the vessel, which he served on from September 2007 to March 2012. His case is very similar to Hillary Clinton's in which classified material was mishandled, and Saucier, unlike Clinton, served 12 months in prison. He is currently suing the Obama administration for inequality of justice. Trump gets a "Martha Stewart" endorsement ['it's a good thing'] on this one as well.

Lewis "Scooter" Libby is the fourth person Trump dealt with. Libby was convicted of perjury regarding CIA officer Valerie Plame, and obstruction of justice. Libby  considered himself the target of unfair prosecution. His sentence was initially commuted by George W. Bush in July 2007 and President Trump gave Libby a total pardon on April 13, 2018.

Fifth in line was Jack Johnson,  the first black heavyweight champion in boxing. The pardon was given posthumously by Trump for Johnson's 1913 conviction for violating the Mann Act, which involved the illegal transport of women over state lines for "immoral" purposes. The pardon was issued on May 24, 2018. It was previously denied by the Obama administration because true to form, Obama did nothing positive for black people.

Dinesh D'Souza was the sixth to be pardoned by Trump on May 31, 2018. D'Souza is a conservative version of Michael Moore, except without the cow inside his stomach. He has made documentaries and written books which depict the left in less than glowing terms, and he was convicted of campaign finance violations to which he admitted [unlike Hillary Clinton's refusal of admitting personal responsibility for her devastating loss to Donald J. Trump for the presidency of the United States].

At the time of D'Souza's consideration for pardon, Trump was also considering pardoning Democrats Martha Stewart [speaking of the devil] and Rod Blagojevich--Stewart for lying to the FBI and "Blago" for being a scumwafer who tried to sell Obama's senate seat after he won the election.

I can abide by the Stewart pardon, but Blagojevich is questionable in my mind.

Finally, we have Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old "grandmother" who has used that moniker to somehow project her innocence. It's easy to become a grandmother--just have kids and don't die before they have kids.

I have mixed feelings about Johnson.

She isn't an innocent bystander in her crime. She was doing some serious drug-deals and money laundering. The fact that her son was killed in a motorcycle accident doesn't seem a good enough excuse for dealing drugs.

And while she's hyped as being convicted of a "non-violent" crime, I believe that dealing drugs is a violent crime, but indirectly so.

Perhaps Trump was right to release her, but to have Kim Kardashian West as the spokesperson for her case is ridiculous. Just because people are famous, does not make them experts or even intelligent.

And wasn't it Trump who said that he wants to get tougher on drug dealers? He even spoke of the possibility of the death penalty.

President Trump needs to be careful not to make these pardons into a TV show. And certainly he needs to stop equating celebrity with expertise.

I think it would have been better for him to have followed the presidential tradition of waiting until the end of his term before going forward on pardons, but I also understand his need to "do something" in the present.

It's just my opinion--what's yours?

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