Donald Trump

President Trump's Use of the Pardon Power

An analysis finds that Trump is both more stingy and more self-serving than his predecessors in how he has used the pardon power to date

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

President Trump's decision to commute the sentence of Roger Stone has brought renewed attention to the pardon power. This pardon is egregious, perhaps even corrupt, but it is perfectly lawful.

The President's power to issue pardons is fairly absolute. The President has the unilateral authority to issue pardons. and this power cannot be constrained by Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's proposal to limit how the pardon power is used is almost certainly unconstitutional, and the fact that Trump may benefit personally from his uses of the pardon power does not make the pardons or commutations any less valid.

This is not the first time President Trump has used the pardon power to help a friend or ally. In fact, he seems primarily interested in using the pardon power for such purposes. As Jack Goldsmith and Matt Gluck found when they analyzed Trump's use of the pardon power: "Almost all of the beneficiaries of Trump's pardons and commutations have had a personal or political connection to the president." Indeed, they found that " no president in American history comes close to matching Trump's systematically self-serving use of the pardon power."

At the same time as he has used the pardon power for his own self-interest—as opposed to for the purpose of doing justice—President Trump has used the pardon power less frequently than his predecessors. As Goldsmith and Gluck conclude:

In sum, Trump is unprecedented in the modern era for (i) the number and high percentage of self-serving pardons, and (ii) his stinginess in issuing pardons, at least thus far. Quite a feat.

Again, however, this does not make the pardons any less valid or his use of the power any less constitutional. It is gross, to be sure, but something can be both gross and lawful.

As for the justifications some have offered for the stone commutation, they ring hollow.  If the President or his allies truly believe that nonviolent, first-time offenders should not receive prison time, we would see evidence of that fact beyond this action, such as an order directing the Department of Justice to alter its sentencing recommendations accordingly, or proposals to revise the federal sentencing guidelines. I am not holding my breath.

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  1. Yeah well my analysis finds he has used his power courageously without fear of petty political criticisms, as it was meant to be used and hasn’t been by other self-serving cowards who unfortunately possessed this high power.

    1. Isn’t it customary to leave defendants out on bail while they appeal?

    2. Might be helpful to show your work.

      1. not sure I understand the comment

        1. You apparently performed some analysis. It’s not present in your comment; only the conclusion. In what way was Trump’s use of the pardon power courageous and how does that contrast to, apparently, every other President? So far you’ve given some examples of Obama pardons that you think were questionable, and I think possibly implied that Trump is brave by granting the Stone commutation before the election. Is that it?

      2. But if you want examples of cowardly executives abusing their authority how about Obama’s pardon of the traitor Bradley Manning a few days before leaving office. President Trump at least had the courage to issue his commutation before the Nov election. Want another one? Obama’s commutation of convicted terrorist Oscar Lopez Rivera.

        1. Since Manning wasn’t convicted until Obama’s second term, it would have been rather difficult for him to issue the commutation before the election.

          At any rate, while I certainly disagree with both of those exercises of the pardon power, is there anything to suggest that Obama’s personal interests played a role in his decision-making?

          1. Manning was sentenced in 2013 and the profile in courage Obama waited until a few days before leaving office to act. Not very courageous if he thought the sentence was unjust. That’s my basic point which you seem incapable of grasping because of your political bias. And, incidentally, that same biased inclination underlies all the insinuations that President’s Trump’s exercise of his pardon power was improper. No evidence, just obnoxious assumptions.

            1. This may be the first time I’ve been accused of being politically biased in favor of President Obama.

              With respect to Stone: the evidence is overwhelming that he committed a series of moderately serious federal crimes. He received an eminently reasonable sentence. He has clearly shown no remorse or acceptance of responsibility. And his legal challenges to his conviction border on the frivolous. If can’t see the impropriety in this commutations, then you may be the one whose judgment is clouded by bias.

              1. Who knows what your bias is but your statements about overwhelming evidence of serious federal crimes kind of gives the game away. We’re taking about something generated by a special counsel who zealously pursued process crimes against Trump associates to perpetuate and justify a years long investigation of something that was known to be hoax from the start. And that’s not even getting into the pre-dawn CNN coordinated raid and the democrat activist foreperson.

                1. Stone was charged with obstructing a Congressional investigation, making five specific false statements to Congress about his association with “Organization 1” (i.e. Wikileaks), and attempting to prevent Randy Credico from testifying truthfully. For which of those offenses do you think there’s a reasonable doubt as to his guilt?

                  https://www.justice.gov/file/1124706/download

                  1. Now, are you reciting info from the withdrawn sentencing recommendation of the abusive political hacks who left the case or the Barr amended recommendation? I guess my point is that some questions may exist surrounding the origins and process of this case given that, well, it was prosecuted by abusive political hacks. But even more fundamentally, even assuming you’re right and there is an objective factual basis to support a conviction, so what? Everyone who has their sentence commuted has been convicted of a crime.

                    1. I’m not reciting anything: I’m talking about what Stone was charged with, and what the facts are as far as his guilt.

                      If there’s some reason to question his guilt, or some good reason why someone who is guilty of doing what he did should nevertheless be able to avoid prison altogether (even after a judge has rejected that request only a few months ago), you’re welcome to make that case.

                    2. I think the President issued a press release that more than adequately explains his rationale. Just curious, was there some reason to question the guilt of Oscar Lopez Rivera and Bradley Manning? What exactly was unfair about their trials? Or do you have different standards for terrorists and traitors?

            2. Manning was sentenced in 2013 and the profile in courage Obama waited until a few days before leaving office to act. Not very courageous if he thought the sentence was unjust.

              That doesn’t actually make any sense. If Obama had waited and then pardoned Manning, your argument might be valid. But Obama just commuted Manning’s sentence. Which means that he thought Manning’s sentence was too harsh, not that he thought Manning shouldn’t serve any time in prison. A commutation in 2017 is entirely consistent with thinking Manning deserved several years in prison.

          2. And, whatever may have motivated Obama, it certainly was a concern for the rule of law or the national security of the United States.

            1. WHOA! I apologize profusely for the typo. Should have been “wasn’t” I certainly never meant to imply that Obama was motivated to safeguard the rule of law.

        2. “how about Obama’s pardon of the traitor Bradley Manning a few days before leaving office. President Trump at least had the courage to issue his commutation before the Nov election.”

          Where you see courage others might see stupidity. Trump is so convinced by his own publicity that he actually believes he can do whatever he wants without consequence.

  2. “The President’s power to issue pardons is fairly absolute. The President has the unilateral authority to issue pardons. and this power cannot be constrained by Congress.”

    If this statement is true, it seems that everything that follows it is simply partisan eyewash.

    1. You know what they say, one man’s partisan eyewash is another man’s ethics.

    2. The Constitutional authority to do something does not mean doing it is ethically, morally, or otherwise appropriate.

      For instance, I am pretty sure you hate “cancel culture”, but magazines, corporations, individuals, etc., have the right to fire people or boycott businesses for not rigidly adhering to (left or right wing) orthodoxy. It doesn’t make it right. It is rightly criticized as corrosive to a free society. But there is nothing in the constitution that prevents it.

      Likewise, the pardon of one’s cronies and possible criminal accomplices. The only thing that can be done about it is to call it out for what it is: unethical, immoral, and corrosive of the pillars of our free society. And vote accordingly.

      1. There is nothing ethically or morally inappropriate for the President to commute the charges in the Stone case. But, I’m sure you still believe the “Steele Dossier” and view the farcical predawn raid orchestrated with CNN as ethically and morally appropriate. And, who knows, with thousands of demo-cats voting by mail you might actually win this year?

        1. William Barr, not known for standing on principle to push back against Trump’s abuses, defended the Stone prosecution and sentencing as appropriate. Stone openly talks about how he resisted turning State’s evidence against Trump. This is as unethical and immoral as it gets.

          The Steele Dossier is a distraction that has nothing to do with this abuse of the pardon power.

          Whether the raid was necessary or appropriate has nothing to do with this abuse of the pardon power.

          Stone was guilty. Stone did Trump a favor. Trump commuted his sentence before he served a day of it as a reward for that loyalty. It is the quintessential example of abuse of the pardon power.

          1. The President, not the Attorney General, holds the power and the President has the duty to exercise that power to correct prosecutorial abuses and injustice as he sees fit, regardless of what a subordinate official may think. That’s called leadership. And, the dossier and raid are relevant because they underlie the Russia hoax and reflect attempts to manufacture and perpetuate a facade of criminality to support and perpetuate that fraud.

            1. The so-called “Russia hoax” is irrelevant given that Stone did commit a crime. He was convicted by an impartial jury. He brags about protecting Trump. Trump commuted his sentence before he served a day. It is a reward for loyalty. It is the quintessential example of abuse of the pardon power. It is not leadership. It is bald-faced corruption.

              1. Impartial jury? You mean the one with the democrat activist foreperson? The President quite reasonably took into account all circumstances underlying this prosecution, including the special counsel’s malicious targeting of Trump associates to bolster and perpetuate the fraudulent collusion investigation. Where is your concern about the corrupt spying on the Trump campaign and the corrupt efforts to undermine the transition/administration?

                1. MKE, the fundamental flaw in your theory is that even if one accepts every one of your claims as true, Michael Cohen is then every bit as deserving of a pardon as Roger Stone. He was convicted by the same prosecutors using the same process under essentially the same facts as Stone. So where’s his pardon?

                  1. Maybe Biden could pardon him if he manages to cheat his way into office? Seems like the type of irresponsible use of the pardon power I would expect from a Biden administration.

                    1. Ok so you’re not able to respond to my actual point.

                    2. Yeah, quite a good point you have as long as we don’t distinguish between a victim and a participant.

                    3. No, you’re missing the point. Your claim is that Stone was pardoned because he was the victim of a process prosecution by a hoax-based prosecutor. But that is manifestly not true because if it were, the same applies to Michael Cohen.

                      But let’s make this easy. Is your position that Stone did not lie to Congress, or is it your position that he did lie to Congress but you don’t care?

                    4. You have no point, Stone was a victim of the process, Cohen ended up as a participant/cooperator. The President isn’t obligated to commute any sentence Comey, Brennan, or any other hack might receive either.

                    5. Ok so you’re not going to answer my question about whether you think Stone actually did lie to Congress.

                      And I don’t think you’re right on the facts about Cohen. Yes he did plead guilty and cooperate but only after he was squeezed pretty hard, including the threat of thirty years versus three if he didn’t cooperate. The fact that coercion played a role in what he did surely counts for something.

                    6. I think many questions exist as to why prosecutors targeted Stone and the entire trial court process. But I continue to be amused (and somewhat confused) as to why those in opposition of the Stone commutation believe that screaming endlessly that he was convicted is somehow damning. Tell me, is there actually someone who hasn’t been convicted and sentenced who has received a commutation? And just curious, did Comey lie to Congress? Did Brennan? Funny how some perjures are given special treatment? Spare me your faux outrage.

                    7. Ok so you’re not going to answer my question about whether you think Stone lied to Congress.

                      And next time you get a speeding ticket, try telling the police officer that others were speeding too and let us know how that works for you. That others may have also lied to Congress does not get Stone off the hook.

                    8. Are you pretending not to understand? Not really sure. Maybe you don’t. Assuming arguendo that a “crime” was committed (and its not so serious a crime that others, usu. prominent democrats, are never held to task), so what? Were you outraged that Blagojevich’s sentence was commuted? Presidents consider relevant circumstances. At least ones with integrity do. Not sure why Democrats consistently pardon convicted terrorists though. But then we get back to your faux or maybe selective outrage. Isn’t there a statue out there you can take out your frustrations on?

                    9. Oh, I understand your argument perfectly: Yes, he committed a crime, but so what. And here’s the so what:

                      Not only did Stone obstruct a criminal investigation and lie to Congress, but he did so brazenly, openly, and while publicly giving the legal system the finger. No legal system that wants to be taken seriously can ignore that kind of public rebellion. It’s as if a child commits an infraction and then spits in his mother’s face when she asks him about it. If you let that pass, you will never, ever be taken seriously again.

                      Someday the balance of power in Washington will shift, and it will be Democrats being investigated by Republicans rather than the other way around. And when that happens, you’re going to want a system in place in which there are penalties for not cooperating. And that’s what makes this pardon an outrage: It’s basically a public announcement that the justice system is a paper tiger, at least if you’re properly connected, and can be ignored.

                      As for all the what-aboutism you keep introducing, it’s just an attempt to change the subject. I happen to agree with you that pardoning Chelsea Manning and Marc Rich wasn’t Obama’s and Clinton’s finest hours either, but that has nothing to do with Roger Stone.

                    10. @Krychek_2

                      I applaud the persistence though I hope you remember that you’re basically arguing with a surrogate Trump press secretary. He wouldn’t concede 1+1=2 if it somehow implicated Trump.

                    11. Insightful Krychek_2, but Stone’s prosecution had nothing to do with vindicating the rule of law. Is there a “system in place” to hold Brennan and Clapper accountable for lying to Congress? Where is it hiding exactly? The reality is that the special counsel zealously targeted Trump associates and pursued process crimes to perpetuate and justify the hoax of a collusion investigation. A disgraceful waste and abuse.

                    12. By changing the subject to Brennan and Clapper, you basically concede that you have no good argument for the Stone pardon. That’s why people change the subject; they don’t want to talk about the actual issue on the table.

                      Whether or not there were other people who lied to Congress, Stone did. He really did do the crimes he was convicted of doing. And it’s no defense to say that other people were also guilty; that was the essence of the Eichman defense in Jerusalem in 1961 and it didn’t work for him either. I’m sure Trump did feel targeted; the objects of investigations usually do.

                    13. You mention 1961 and eichman and accuse me of changing the topic? What I was doing is pointing out relevant circumstances surrounding this case that call into question the true underlying purpose and political motives for this prosecution. Should the president turn a blind eye to these political motivations? And the other cases show that the DOJ is hardly politcally neutral in these matters.

                    14. And I bet those subject to coups usually feel targeted too.

                    15. I introduced Eichman for the limited purpose of showing that the defense you’re making — other people did it too — is a defense that has already been rejected. What-aboutism is not a legal defense.

                      With respect to the motivations of the prosecutors, even if I agreed that in general that’s a relevant clemency consideration (and I’m not sure I do), in this case, there was clear evidence of Russian interference in the election, whether or not you think there was collusion. (Whether the Russians meddled, and whether the Trump campaign helped them meddle, is two different issues; you don’t have to think there was collusion to think there was meddling.) What Stone did has potentially grave national security implications. He interfered in an investigation designed to ferret out and further deter foreign interference in an election. Respectfully, I think your loyalty to Trump is preventing you from seeing just how great a crime this actually was.

                      And that is not overcome by whatever bad motives you think the prosecution had. Robert Mueller is not the bad guy here.

                    16. Now we’re back to Russia? This is sad. The only candidate that colluded with Russians was Hillary Clinton. And Mueller? Who knows, almost not worth it to attack a guy apparently suffering from dementia but his democrat lieutenants probably have a lot to answer for.

                    17. Whether or not there was collusion, do you dispute that Russia meddled in the 2016 election?

                    18. Is there a “system in place” to hold Brennan and Clapper accountable for lying to Congress?

                      Of course. It’s called the DOJ. They could’ve prosecuted these guys at any time, if there were actual evidence that met a legal standard rather than a Twitter Law standard.

                  2. Cohen breached lawyer/client confidence — Stone didn’t.

                    1. As usual, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

                      For starters, why don’t you check whether client confidentiality applies when conspiring with said client to commit a crime.

                      Then maybe just shut the fuck up.

                    2. You are ignorant of relevant facts Jason, but that doesn’t stop you. That sleaze Cohen leaked private conversations with his client to CNN. Just so you know, the violates NY’s Code of Professional responsibility. Just scream Russia and spray paint a national monument and you’ll feel better in no time.

                2. Ah, so juries are political now and only Republicans should judge Republicans?

                  What the fuck is wrong with you? The crimes he committed were not political – they were felonies.

                  1. Yeah how can anyone sleep safely with dangerous felons like Stone on the loose? Who knows how many more process crimes he’ll commit?

                    1. Let’s apply the same logic to illegal aliens.

                    2. Going to need GPS to determine the exact location of your new goalposts…

                      It’s telling that you can’t be bothered to discuss any of this in good faith.

                      I’ll remember the criteria for what constitutes a ‘fair’ jury in your mind if I ever find myself having to deal with the law. Maybe I should commit seven felonies and see if I get the same treatment as Trump’s political cronies.

                  2. Sharp as always James, but tell me, are there people out there who aren’t convicted and sentenced that need a commutation of their sentence? Simply screaming incessantly that he’s a convicted felon is absurd. If he weren’t, he wouldn’t have a sentence to commute.

                    1. Sorry “Jason ” but at this point, does it really matter?

                    2. As expected, you immediately pivot away from the absurdity of your comment to complain about something else.

                      Since when is political affiliation a reason to pretend the jury pool is tainted?

                      I’m guessing the start date for your astounding legal theory was approximately the same date you sold your soul to your Messiah, Donald Trump?

                    3. “are there people out there who aren’t convicted and sentenced that need a commutation of their sentence?”

                      Besides Sheriff Joe, you mean? Or Richard Nixon, whose pardon by Ford got Carter elected.

                    4. Sheriff Joe and Nixon were pardoned super genius.

                      And in response to Jason, how is it changing the point to respond to your facile comments? And its not merely the political affiliation, which could and probably does suggest bias, its that this foreperson was an activist who had no place on this jury. But that’s not the main source of the bias, the biggest offender is the special counsel who zealously looked for process crimes to justify an inquiry that was know from the start to be baseless.

                  3. Been that way a couple decades now. It works thusly:

                    Dems cannot prosecute Republicans because Dems will abuse their power and blab all over the place. Only Republicans can prosecute Republicans because they’ll be fair and unbiased.

                    Dems cannot prosecute Dems because they will run a sham investigation and cover for their buddies. Only Republicans can prosecute Dems because they’ll adhere to the rule of law and run airtight investigations and prosecutions.

                    Reality be damned.

                3. ” Where is your concern about the corrupt spying on the Trump campaign”

                  In your imagination, same as the corrupt spying on the Trump campaign.

              2. “Stone did commit a crime”
                A process crime, without a victim.

                But here’s the real question for you…

                If you are “protecting” an innocent man who is being railroaded by the system, is that really a crime that should be punished? Or is it exactly the sort of crime that should be commuted?

                1. Again, this logic about victimless crimes applies to illegal aliens. And yet in that case you cry about the sacred rule of law.

                  1. Illegal aliens have victims.
                    The suppression of wages for poor Americans citizens.

                    1. Those being prosecuted usually have a felony or two as well.

                    2. Then Stone has a victim; the US electorate.

                    3. That’s not how economics works.

                    4. Doesn’t happen, and nobody has an entitlement to an above market-level wage anyway, so they’re not “victims.” If (pre-covid) Starbucks opened a store down the street from your coffee shop, and as a result your shop went out of business, you would not be a “victim” of Starbucks. Not even if AOC passed a law making it illegal for big coffee chains to exist.

                    5. The left would *love* to have a big black book of the ‘victims’ of capitalism, under AL’s paradigm.

                      Everyone who has starved, or died from lack of health care, or from exposure ’cause they were homeless. Or even forced into drugs or crime and killed.

                      Man, the next time Somin tries to invoke the deaths caused by Communism…

              3. And what do you mean “so-called” Russian hoax Nova lawyer? You actually still believe the Clinton/DNC generated campaign propaganda dossier don’t you? You might be interested in knowing that not even Christopher Steele believes it and that’s hardly surprising considering he was hired by Clinton/DNC to make it up in the first place.

                1. MKE you are just a troll.

                  The evidence is overwhelming that Russia interfered with the election.

                  The evidence is overwhelming that the Trump campaign was open to working with Russia. “If it’s what you say, I love it!”

                  That the Trump campaign was either too incompetent to succeed or sufficiently competent in covering their actual tracks is beside the point.

                  The Russians interfered. There were sufficient contacts between Russia and the Trump administration to justify an investigation. An investigation found only smoke, no fire. Where’s the hoax?

                  But, as whole comment section shows, MKE is just a troll, uninterested in having a good faith discussion of any of this. He never responds substantively, always immediately imputes bad faith and bad motives to anyone who points out the silliness of his arguments.

                  1. Amazing. So, you actually still believe the pee “dossier” propaganda? And, incidentally, I could excuse that you use personal attacks and then accuse me of engaging in bad faith rhetoric, if you were actually clever. But you just regurgitate the same childish tropes one could find on any twitter feed. Try to put a little more effort into your insults.

                    1. and you demonstrate my point.

                  2. As of January 2017 the FBI had no derogatory evidence against President Trump, or anyone associated with the Campaign. The Mueller report stated specifically that Trump, the campaign, in fact, no ANY AMERICAN in any way cooperated with Russia’s diabolical plan to spend $300,000 on facebook ads. Thus $300,000 out of almost $2 billion spent was all it took.

                    New evidence has revealed the IC conclusion that Russia favored Trump had no evidence to support the conclusion.

                    1. The Mueller report details quite a bit of collusive behavior between the Trump campaign/admin and Russia, just not enough to make a case.

                      Weird you’d narrow it to Facebook only, though.

                      New evidence has revealed the IC conclusion that Russia favored Trump had no evidence to support the conclusion.
                      Uhhh.

                    2. “As of January 2017 the FBI had no derogatory evidence against President Trump, or anyone associated with the Campaign. ”

                      But they weren’t wrong, as Trump himself later went on national TV to explain that OF COURSE he’d be open to hearing a foreign government discuss its offer to meddle in American politics on his behalf. Don’t confuse the premise that the Russians wanted the American government hamstrung by being led by a buffoon with the premise that the Russians wanted to work with a buffoon to bring about their desired outcome.

              4. ” Not sure why Democrats consistently pardon convicted terrorists though.”

                Perhaps your therapist can give you some insight to the way your brain works.

            2. ” the dossier and raid are relevant because they underlie the Russia hoax and reflect attempts to manufacture and perpetuate a facade of criminality to support and perpetuate that fraud.”

              What flavor is the Kool-Aid they gave you with that?

        2. “with thousands of demo-cats voting by mail you might actually win this year?”

          Thousands of Democrats voted by mail in 2016, along with thousands of Republicans, and a bunch of fringe parties too. Even some non-partisans. Literally every voter in Oregon cast their ballot by mail, same as they had ever since Oregon adopted vote-by-mail for all elections.

          1. We’re not talking about absentee ballots sport. Maybe your cat can explain the difference to you. I’m sure tabby has already received his ballot application.

            1. MKE, my cat thinks that anyone who votes by mail isn’t going to show up later at the polling station, so they are an absentee.
              He also thinks Florida doesn’t have two programs, no reason or excuse or note from your mother is required of voters who choose to vote by mail, as Donald Trump did in March.

              1. To be ignorant is excusable, but not being obnoxious and arrogant in your ignorance.

                1. So why did you do it, if you find it inexcusable?

            2. “We’re not talking about absentee ballots sport.”

              No, we’re not, dingus. Oregon’s elections have been held by mail for quite a few election cycles now. Maybe my cat can help you with this concept, since she’s clearly smarter than you.

    3. I think pardons given or not given are open to criticism. For instance Clinton’s pardon of Mark Rich, specially “vetted” by Eric Holder was worthy of scathing criticism, but legal.

      1. Elsewhere Townes condemns Clinton’s pardon of Rich, so it’s pretty clear his argument here is the real eyewash.

        1. It’s ok to condemn both. But at least Stone had the courage to stand trial rather than flee to Europe with ill gotten gains for a life of luxury. That was the thing that made a the Rich pardon so bad: pardoning white collar financiers is a dime a dozen, pardoning someone who fled justice and never went to trial or spent a day in jail is as bad as it gets.

          1. Yeah. Lots of people on here do, myself included.

            It’s also okay to distinguish them from each other. Lots of people on here do, myself included.

            But it’s not okay to say condemnation of pardons is illegitimate for Trump but not Clinton.

          2. “pardoning someone who […] never went to trial or spent a day in jail is as bad as it gets.”

            Trump pardoned Sheriff Joe a couple of years ago and you’re just hearing about it now?

  3. Trump has issued pardons and commutations that are extremely popular with his base. You may call it self-serving and rewarding allies, but I see it as him giving his supporters what they want — and in many cases, have lobbied hard for.

    1. Well, at least one of his supporters has lobbied hard for this latest commutation…

    2. In your second sentence, you aren’t using “but” right.

    3. “I see it as him giving his supporters what they want — and in many cases, have lobbied hard for.”

      Giving them what they deserve for supporting him. You guys wanted the nakedly corrupt, compulsively lying would-be dictator, you got him. Republicans like to campaign against the federal government, complaining that it’s too powerful and too corrupt.

  4. Another point, too. Posting anything by lawfareblog.com about Trump is nakedly partisan. Those folks at lawfareblog are some of the most foam-at-the-mouth haters of Trump that exist. I used to frequent their site in an attempt to learn something but all they do is stay hypercritical of Trump while waxing poetic about the Obama administration and ignoring everything the Obama administration did to break the law.

    I’m just sick of the bullshit. It’s just naked partisanship masked in legal frumpery.

    1. You’re averse to ethics and morality? Good to know.

      1. Ah yes. Folks draping themselves in the mantle of “ethics and morality” while giving no time to the ethical lapses of the Obama administration? Seems legit.

        1. Yes, because as explained in the OP, Obama used to pardon his friends all the time too. O, wait…

          1. Obama arranged for the FBI and DOJ to never prosecute his friends.

            1. Citation needed.

              Ha! I say that whenever I want Dr. Ed to shut up.

                1. Of course, this link says nothing about Obama arraigning anything.

                  1. Right, and I’m sure until the Strozok notes were revealed you would have been willing to swear up and down that Obama would never have been involved in targeting Flynn. The fact of the matter is Obama is as corrupt as they come, which is true of EVERY politician that goes anywhere who came up through the Chicago Machine.

                    1. Ok chief. Obama wasn’t involved in targeting Flynn.

                      Do the Clinton Death List next.

                    2. Ooo, ooo. And the pedophile ring in the pizza business.

                      Bring that up too!

                    3. Explosive New FBI Notes Confirm Obama Directed Anti-Flynn Operation

                      “Newly released notes confirm President Barack Obama’s key role in surveillance and leak operation against Michael Flynn, the incoming Trump administration national security adviser. The handwritten notes, which were first disclosed in a federal court filing made by the Department of Justice on Tuesday, show President Obama himself personally directed former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates to investigate Flynn for having routine phone calls with a Russian counterpart. He also suggests they withhold information from President Trump and his key national security figures.”

                    4. Jesus, Brett, get better sources than the Federalist. It does link to the notes. Cryptic, and certainly not explosive if you read them.

                      That meeting was about whether the Russia investigation should be shared with Flynn based on what they knew about Flynn’s involvement.

                      You’re smarter than that tin foil nonsense.

                    5. It shows at least some level of involvement, though not that he was actually driving it. It was, at the very least, discussed in his presence.

                    6. It’s at best involvement after the fact Brett.

                      This is a sad straw grasping argument to make.

                    7. No Sarcastr0, it is real evidence as opposed to “dossier” propaganda fabricated by campaign operatives.

                    8. ” The fact of the matter is Obama is as corrupt as they come”

                      Just like all the other Kenyan Muslims from Hawaii.

                    9. MKE, the timeline does not work to support the Obama directed anything abut Flynn canard.

                      And then you throw other nonsense at the wall because you rarely actually argue via facts.

                    10. So notes from a meeting with Obama and Biden are not facts, but pee “dossier” propaganda fabricated by Clinton campaign operatives is? i don’t think even you cat would accept that Sarcastr0 but maybe I’m giving your cat too much credit.

                    11. And I guess I have to add that your comments are particularly obnoxious Pollock. Nobody has brought up race or religion but you.

                    12. “And I guess I have to add that your comments are particularly obnoxious Pollock. ”

                      Wanted you to recognize them. Seems to be all you can work with.

                      “Nobody has brought up race or religion but you.”

                      Really? Nobody ever called Obama a Kenyan Muslim before I did? Nobody? You sure you want to go with that? Hint: There was this would-be businessman TV show host from New York who bought in pretty heavily to the “Kenyan” part. Whatever happened to that guy?

                  2. That is your double standard in full view. Obama? No video, 6 eye witnesses, a dozen emails? Nope Obama only knows what he reads in the NYT. The United States emergency stores of personal protective equipment all used up during the Obama administration, but Obama did not restock, is Trumps fault for not noticing.
                    Fast a Furious? Nope Obama knows nothing. The Russia Hoax? Eight people in the White House meetings, Obama and Biden in attendance, but Obama still is unaware of anything.

                    1. Dude, the Federalist has no evidence. The note, if you bother to read it, is quite unclear about what it talks about. And the timeline doesn’t work with Obama _directing_ anything!

                      The eyewitnesses do not back up Ed’s conspiracy theory at all.

                      Your pivot to PPP is silly, and maybe not a good direction to go. There were supplies; the cuts were due to Congressional budget priorities, not Obama.

                      At this point, you’re in a contest to out-crazy Ed. The best move is not to play.

                  3. Of course, this link says nothing about Obama arraigning anything.

                    And of course if there were a crime by Hillary, she could’ve been prosecuted (by the guy chanting “Lock her up!”) at any time after January 20, 2017.

                    1. “if there were a crime by Hillary, she could’ve been prosecuted (by the guy chanting ‘Lock her up!’)”

                      Well, strictly speaking, by people who report to the leading the chanters… if they worked by loyalty to the buffoon instead of loyalty to the law of the land.
                      And of course, his inability to lead people who work for him is not due to his own inadequacy, but due to a giant conspiracy against him.

                2. Not responsive.

        2. Pretending that Obama’s ethical issues even remotely compare to the self-serving malignant narcissism and corruption of Trump is cute.

          And asinine.

          Not a word of criticism about Trump’s blatant corruption, but plenty to say about Obama. Precisely what one expects from a Trumper. Unwilling at all costs to live in the present reality. Black man bad, Orange man good.

          1. Trump avoided using the national intel apparatus to attack a political opponent.

            1. You know its interesting that “if he attack a political opponent” no one knew about it until well after the election and inauguration of the “President”. Pretty stupid attack!

            2. “Trump avoided using the national intel apparatus to attack a political opponent.”

              The national intel apparatus deals with facts, which Trump and his fans have no use for. They just want to “build that wall” and “lock her up”.
              The intel apparatus accurately detected that the Russkies wanted to mess with us, and that Trump would be a willing participant if it worked out well for him. They did this by surveillling the Russkies. It turned out, in doing so, they caught the Trump campaign trying to build contacts. In Trump’s mind, or at least, in the public display of his stream of consciousness, that turned into “they were surveilling me!” but only the stupid could be taken in by that narrative.

              1. James you need sources. No evidence exists for any of your claims. We do know from Intell sources, Brennen and Clapper claimed Russia favored Trump, but no intell ever existed to reach that conclusion.

                1. Weird, then, that the GOP-run senate agreed with the IC’s assessment.

                  1. Yes, a lot of new world order Republicans are against President Trump. Have you not been paying attention? I still need that evidence that any American was working with Russia to alter the outcome of the 2016 election….with a massive ad buy of $300,000 on facebook. $300,000 out of almost $2 Billion in total advertising for both people running for President. BTW,Obama was the person in power and fully aware, that refused to lift a finger to deter Russia.

                    1. ” I still need that evidence that any American was working with Russia to alter the outcome of the 2016 election”

                      While you’re waiting for that to happen, you’ll also be waiting for anyone to allege that particular circumstance.

                      Meanwhile, the claim that Trump was perfectly willing to do so has a bit of evidence to support it… starting with Trump admitting so on national TV. It was just something he said, no reason to assume that Trump had anything to do with it. The Russian leadership is capable, and smart, or are you not willing to concede either of those things either? It’s not a surprise that they might be unwilling to let him screw up their hard work. They successfully played on American stupidity to hamstring us with a corrupt, incompetent leader. And you bought it, and continue to ask for more.

                2. “James you need sources. No evidence exists for any of your claims.”

                  You refuse to accept reality, and you’re claiming that it’s my fault????

            3. Trump avoided using the national intel apparatus to attack a political opponent.

              I know Trumpkins aren’t the brightest, but you might think back a short ways — back to before Trump killed 130,000 people through incompetence — and recall that Trump was impeached for doing something pretty much that.

              1. Well, he wasn’t trying to use OUR intel apparatus to attack a political rival.
                But, you know, the memories of facts tend to just go away when the weather gets warmer.

        3. ” Folks draping themselves in the mantle of “ethics and morality” while giving no time to the ethical lapses of the Obama administration?”

          Hint: Obama isn’t President. The time to fret endlessly about the (real or mostly imagined) ethical lapses of the Obama administration has passed.

          God willing , we can soon stop worrying about the lack of Mr. Trump’s ethics. It’s still 4 more years until we can be cheered that somebody both qualified and effective can be elected.

      2. “ You’re averse to ethics and morality? Good to know.”

        Ethics and morality? From LawFare? You have to be kidding.

        They are responsible for much of the misinterpretation of statutes, and the like, that fueled the Mueller inquisition. Including their deliberate misinterpretation of the Obstruction of Justice statute that was rejected by the DOJ, and AG, that had been preventing the shutdown of the Mueller SC investigation, more than a year after they had determined that there was no Russian collusion on the part of Trump or his campaign.

        That is what LawFare does – they deliberately misinterpret and misuse the law for partisan political advantage. That is implicit in their name, and they rarely fail to live up to it.

        1. These are your blog’s fans, Prof. Adler. Delusional, half-educated bigots and disaffected right-wing kooks.

          You — and a few other Conspirators, most of whom have drifted away (because of the downscale, polemical partisanship, I would wager — deserve better playmates and a better audience.

          1. And here i thought this lockdown might affect your mental health but it’s good to see you’re unbalanced as ever Rev.

            1. Mr. Pot, are you saying Mr. Kettle is black?

  5. Klinton’s pardon of March Rich was pretty self-serving, methinks.

    1. Was that the one issued at the last minute before leaving office? Don’t remember the details, other than politics as usual, pardoning a crony friend. Clinton always seemed much more corrupt than most of his predecessors, but wrapped up in such a good ole boy charming package that he got away with it. His serial rapes were just another aspect of it, and Hillary’s aiding and abetting was enough to make her just another evil politician, but the way she compounded it by intentionally lying about his victims was beyond the pale, and the one thing I could never forgive her for. Everything else was just politics. My fantasy definition of perjury is “authoritative obstruction”, telling explicit lies while pretending to be an authority, and not just having an opinion. Her perjury was not just quibbling about the meaning of “is”.

      1. And if he had done it in the months before the 1996 election, he would have paid a price (which is why he waited until the last minute of his final term). Trump is testing whether his “base” is more willing to endorse his (even more egregious as Stone, even as of Friday, connected the dots between his own favor to Trump and the commutation) use of the pardon power than Clinton assumed of his voters.

        And that stink of corruption created by the Marc Rich pardon (among many other things, but it was part of it) by Bill cost Hillary the 2016 election. One can hope there is a line voters will not let a politician openly, brazenly cross, particularly within a few months of an election.

        1. It wasn’t just the Marc Rich pardon (although that was the worst case).

          There was the Braswell pardon, that was obtained after Braswell paid Hillary Clinton’s brother $200,000 in “lawyer fees”

          There was the Susan McDowell pardon, who was pardoned for contempt charges on failing to testify about Clinton during Whitewater.

          There was the Roger Clinton pardon (Bill’s brother)….

          There was the Harvey Weinig pardon…

          Any one of these is far worse than Stone’s commutation

          1. And as you can see in this thread, plenty of people are willing to condemn several of the Clinton pardons. That you are only interested in whataboutism and are unwilling to call the Stone pardon what it is (naked, self-serving corruption) says all that needs to be said about what little credibility you had in these parts.

            Stone basically connected the dots for you on Friday that this commutation was reward for “not rolling” on Trump. It’s wrong for any President, of any party, to dole out favors to his associates for protecting him. It is corrupt. But you can’t bring yourself to say it. That is to your shame.

            1. “plenty of people are willing to condemn several of the Clinton pardons.”

              And then go right on and vote for the next Clinton in the next election…

              Your complaints would be worth more if you’d held to your principles.

              1. Clinton lost in the next election because of things like the Rich pardon, even though she was running against an obviously corrupt Republican who has become the most corrupt President in U.S. history. If she had run against any reasonable Republican, any Republican with a whiff of integrity, the desertions would have been far greater.

                So, don’t talk about my complaints. I hold to principle. Do you or are you voting Trump this year?

                1. And if you weren’t paying attention, it’s also why she lost in 2008.

                2. I don’t plan on voting for Trump, and haven’t any of the 3 times it’s come up so far (2 primaries, 1 general election). I did note that you didn’t say YOU hadn’t voted for Clinton. Only that it was one of the reasons she lost.

                  IE, despite it all, you likely voted for Hillary in 2016 anyway….

                  1. I answered this a day ago.

                    I never voted for Bill, so am not responsible in any way for his pardons. I voted against Hillary at every opportunity except when she was running against someone far more incompetent and, I hardly thought it possible, more corrupt than her.

                3. Actually Trump was a Democrat all his life until recently, I believe.

                  1. Which raises the question as to why Republicans are so willing to excuse his incompetence, corruptness, immorality, and general unfitness for the office he holds. It isn’t for the ideology.

                    Or if it is, then they weren’t Republicans in the 80s, 90s, and 00s for the ideology.

      2. Was Rich a crony or did Clinton have eyes for Mrs. Rich?

      3. Lots of hating on Hillary; nothing about the self-serving aspect.

      4. “Was that the one issued at the last minute before leaving office?”

        You need to narrow it down a bit: Almost all of Clinton’s pardons were issued at the last minute before leaving office.

    2. “Klinton’s pardon of March Rich was pretty self-serving, methinks.”

      All together now, everyone say “pardoning your cronies is a gross perversion of the pardon power.”

      OK? This is true no matter who did/is doing it.

      Now, we can be 100% certain that Bill Clinton will not be pardoning any more of his cronies, and similarly 100% certain that Barack Obama will not be pardoning any cronies in coming months, so complaining about their pardons is 100% waste of time. There’s this other guy, on the other hand, who still entertains the notion that he can pardon himself, and there’s no telling what abuse of the pardon power he’ll offer up tomorrow. That’s the guy we should be worried about.

  6. Well, you can expect more like this. Expect a full pardon of Lt Gen Flynn if Sullivan manages to sentence him before Trump leaves office. And probably some more SpyGate victims too.

  7. Democrats that stood silent for the Clintons’ Mark Rich pardon should STFU. Oh wait. They won’t. But of course Republicans that whined about Mark Rich will be silent or worse on Stone. Typical political bs.

    1. You’re still living in 2000?

      Maybe catch up on the last few decades and join the rest of us in the present.

      It’s quite telling how much you people care about morals when you have to move the goalposts back TWO DECADES to defend current corruption.

      1. mongoose,

        An important difference, Clinton gave his worst pardon on the way out the door depriving voters of the opportunity to punish him for it (until 2016, when they vicariously did). And that is precisely why he waited until the 11th hour to issue it.

        Trump is betting his voters won’t punish him for an even more egregious abuse of his pardon power a few months before an election. I have to believe he is wrong about this. If this is not a bridge too far, then everything really is just about power, at least in the GOP and the Democrats will then surely follow.

        We can only keep our Republic if people resoundingly repudiate this brazen abuse of the Office of the President.

        1. Alternatively, Trump actually thinks his pardons are defensible, and thus makes them at times when he’ll be forced to defend them.

          One complaint I have about this OP is that it’s comparing numbers of pardons, but not analyzing them in terms of when they happened during the administration. Almost all of Obama’s pardons occurred after the 2016 election, when they could no longer have any political consequences. This is true of most Presidents.

          You won’t know if Trump’s pardon numbers are comparable to past Presidents until January 20th of next year, at the earliest. Until then, you’re comparing apples and oranges, given that modern Presidents usually pardon a bunch of people after the last election in their final term.

          1. Brett,

            Trump believes whatever it is in his self-interest to believe. He believes the only things that matter are pursuing one’s own self-interest and anything else is weakness or stupidity. So, of course, he thinks the pardons are defensible. He also believes he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any of his base. Come November, we’ll find out.

            Founders: A President would be impeached if they used the pardon power to shield their accomplices for justice and thereby protect themselves, so we don’t have to try to craft limitations of the power to reach that sort of abuse.

            Nixon: I think the Founders are right, I won’t go that far.

            Trump: Bill, hold my beer and watch this.

          2. ” modern Presidents usually pardon a bunch of people after the last election in their final term.”

            So if Trump doesn’t think he can win an election this year, the pardons will start now. He’s campaign’s running ads right now complaining that there won’t be any police to take phone calls from citizens, an ad that won’t work with anyone who understands who decides whether or not police get funded (hint not the President) or with anyone who thinks they have to rely on their own capability with a firearm to protect them from crime (hint: Republicans). Before that his ads were premised on the theory that Biden is too old and feeble to be President, coming from a guy who needs two hands to drink a glass of water. And he couldn’t draw a huge crowd to praise him because of the pandemic he said would go away by itself once the summer came along. It’s possible he might be wrong on this subject (why should this subject be different from all the others).
            So sorry, your “You just wait until his other term!” defense is not very convincing.

          3. “Alternatively, Trump actually thinks his pardons are defensible, and thus makes them at times when he’ll be forced to defend them.”

            This is an interesting ( if delusional) theory. Pity it’s entirely divorced from reality.

        2. “Trump is betting his voters won’t punish him for an even more egregious abuse of his pardon power a few months before an election.”

          That’s one possibility. The other is that he doesn’t think he’s going to win, so he isn’t choosing between “now” or “later”, he’s choosing between “now” or “you can’t do that, because you aren’t President any more”.

          Alternatively, he believes he’ll lose if any more truth about him becomes known, so he has to act now to suppress any more truth about him becoming known, which is why he’s rewarding the one rat on his sinking ship that didn’t turn on him to save himself. He hopes that will keep the other rats quiet.

      2. I thought I’d bring it up before the Woke mob cancels Bill Clinton or worse, rewrite his history.

        1. too late, they’re tearing down all the Bill Clinton statues. As soon as they find one.

    2. Mark Rich was a donor but had no connection with any Clinton “misdeeds”. He was also a philanthropist and had some heavy hitters going to bat for him, particularly in the Jewish community.
      By contrast, Stone has led a worthless life, never engaging in anything but personal destruction, and directly helped Trump avoid prosecution. The two cases are not comparable.

      1. LOL. captcrisis doesn’t seem to recall that Rich’s pardon was widely condemned because the guy was a crook living overseas. And the pardon happened the morning of Bush’s inauguration.

        You’re right, the two cases are not comparable. Trump’s commutation of Stone is as pure as the wind-driven snow compared to Clinton’s pardon of Rich.

        1. In other words, everything I said is correct. You don’t dispute any of it.

          (Of course Rich was a crook. Anyone receiving a pardon, by definition, is. Otherwise there’s nothing to pardon.)

          1. WRONG — a commutation is not an admission of guilt.
            Roger Stone is still appealing his conviction and expects to win — there are serious problems with his trial, starting with the jury foreperson.

            All the commutation does is allow him to stay out of prison while the appeals pend — which is often allowed anyway.

            1. “All the commutation does is allow him to stay out of prison while the appeals pend . . . ”

              Your legal insights are as strong as your character.

              Is that a Liberty or Regent law degree talking, is that what your parents taught you with a discount homeschooling outline, or is that heard on Hannity or Ingraham last night?

            2. Roger Stone is still appealing his conviction and expects to win

              No, he doesn’t.

              — there are serious problems with his trial, starting with the jury foreperson.

              There aren’t, starting or ending with the jury foreperson.

              1. Are you trying to drag facts into a political discussion?

                That sort of thing never ends well.

          2. It wasn’t that Rich was a crook, but rather that the Clintons profited handsomely from the pardon, from money his wife gave them.

            1. Bruce Hayden : It wasn’t that Rich was a crook, but rather that the Clintons profited handsomely from the pardon, from money his wife gave them.

              I’m not that interested in defending the Rich pardon, but captcrisis is right : it was mainly political. A list of Jewish leaders & prominent figures who lobbied Clinton include then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Shimon Peres, Ehud Olmert, Abraham Foxman (head of the ADL), Shlomo Ben-Ami, Israel’s former foreign minister, Shabtai Shavit, former Mossad director, and Rabbi Irving Greenberg, chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

              And that is a VERY partial list – a complete one runs much, much longer. It’s also worth noting Rich was the consolation prize. All those people above really wanted a pardon for Jonathan Pollard. Stories at the time had Clinton putting out feelers on a Pollard pardon, but the intelligence community reacted with outrage at the mere suggestion.

              Lastly, Clinton owed Barak, who had risk everything in the 2000 Camp David summit only to be undercut by Arafat’s cowardice. Within a year Ehud Barak would be voted out of office.

              As for ascribing the pardon to a Denise Rich donation, there you face the same problem of Heraclitus trying to stick his toe in one single river. Ms Rich (bless her heart) gave a massive never-ending stream of money to the Democrats before, during, and after her ex-husband’s pardon became an issue. It’s hard to pick out any single dollar in that river of cash to ID as a bribe.

        2. The important distinctions to you are that Rich was living overseas and the pardon happened on the last day of Clinton’s tenure?

          The first is irrelevant. The second is one reason why the Stone commutation is worse. Clinton deprived voters of showing their disapproval (at least until 2016 when corrupt acts like that contributed heavily to Hillary’s loss). Trump is daring you to call him out for this abuse.

          (As you point out, Clinton’s pardon of Rich was widely condemned. Are you willing to condemn the Stone commutation or are you going to sign on to blatant corruption?)

          1. Do you see any differences between Stone’s crime and Rich’s? Any difference in their trials?

            1. I didn’t bring up the distinctions. I responded to the distinctions Michael Towns made.

              Stone’s crime was obstructing justice in various ways (shielding other wrongdoers) thereby providing cover for the President and for that, and not “rolling” once he was caught, he was rewarded with a commutation of his sentence.

              Rich’s crimes were financial and had nothing to do with Clinton or covering for Clinton.

              As prominent Democrats said at the time and many of us have said here, the Marc Rich pardon was disgraceful in that it was almost certainly influenced by money (much like Trump’s pardon of Paul Pogue whose family donated $200,000 to Trump’s campaign, the same sort of pay for play). These are disgraceful. Hillary paid a price for Bill’s pardon of Marc Rich, will you make sure Trump pays a similar price for his pardon of Pogue?

              The Stone commutation is corrosive of the rule of law in a wholly different way. A way considered by the Founders, but they assumed Congress would not abide such corruption. They failed in foreseeing today’s GOP for which, it becomes more apparent every day, that only power matters to them.

              1. Sorry, you’re comparing Paul Pogue extremely limited crimes (underpaying his taxes by 10%) to Marc Rich? Seriously? Do you hear yourself?

                This is like comparing…I don’t know, a little Johnny lighting off a pop rocket in his driveway to a nuclear bomb leveling and calling them both the explosions.

                And I didn’t hear you complaining about the many pardons Clinton gave the cronies who covered up for HIS crimes…

                1. Armchair,

                  Paul Pogue paid for his pardon. That’s relevant and analogous. That the price was lower and his crimes less serious, it was still pay for play. The analogy is apt.

                  (I don’t recall, were heads of state of our allies calling for Pogue’s pardon the way one did for Marc Rich? Or was it simply a business transaction in Pogue’s case?)

                  You hear me complaining about all Clinton’s shady pardons.

                  McDougal’s, bad as it was, at least came after she’d served her sentence and was not provided while she was crowing about covering for him and how she didn’t “roll” on him, with the implication that she still could and really, really didn’t want to go to jail, as Stone just did and was rewarded for his silence.

                  There isn’t a comparison, stop pretending there is.

                  I never voted for Bill, so am not responsible in any way for his pardons. I voted against Hillary at every opportunity except when she was running against someone far more incompetent and, I hardly thought it possible, more corrupt than her.

                  I ask again, you make much of people crying about things in the other party (for you, Clinton’s pardons), but excusing their own. Are you going to be the man I expect you are, or one with integrity?

                  1. You are. You really are. You’re comparing Pogue to Rich and saying “the analogy is apt”. In-freaking-credible.

                    Pogue: A guy who underpaid his taxes by 10%, and had a 1000 hour community service time.., versus

                    Rich: the single largest tax evasion case in US history, facing a 300 year sentence for 65 counts, for among other things, trading with America’s enemies while they were holding American Diplomats hostage. On the FBI’s most wanted list, and never spent a second in jail or trial.

                    And “the analogy is apt”.

                    Sorry, you’ve gone around the bend if you really think the analogy is apt.

                    1. Armchair,

                      You overpaid at Barcalounger U. for your J.D..

                      You entered this by asking if there was a difference between Stone’s crime and Marc Rich’s crime. I pointed out that Marc Rich’s crime was financial. I also pointed out that his pardon was essentially pay for play, like Pogue’s.

                      You haven’t disputed any of that. You have resorted to faux indignation over points no one made regarding comparisons between the seriousness of Rich’s and Pogue’s crimes. It is bluster to avoid addressing the original distinction. It’s lame. I am sure you feel lots of righteous indignation which is preferable to admitting your original question stepped in a puddle you didn’t expect, apparently.

                      (Your question: “Do you see any differences between Stone’s crime and Rich’s?” My answer: “Stone’s crime was obstructing justice in various ways (shielding other wrongdoers) thereby providing cover for the President…Rich’s crimes were financial and had nothing to do with Clinton or covering for Clinton.”)

                      You don’t like Marc Rich. You think his crime was awful, much more awful than Pogue’s. It is irrelevant to this discussion. You’ve ignored that I distinguished Rich and Stone with respect to the type of crime and that the Stone pardon undermines the rule of law in a way that the Rich pardon (though disgraceful and deleterious of the rule of law in a different way) does not.

                      Carry on with your pretend outrage at precisely no one minimizing Rich’s crime or the troublesomeness of Clinton’s pardon of him.

                    2. “You are. You really are. You’re comparing Pogue to Rich and saying “the analogy is apt”. In-freaking-credible.”

                      Get somebody who can read for content to review this and explain it to you.

      2. So it’s OK to send an innocent man to prison because he’s “led a worthless life”? Don’t forget to add a few years for the Nixon tattoo.

        1. He’s not innocent. He was convicted by a jury after a trial. He will fail in his appeal. He is guilty. Pretending otherwise just marks you as an unserious troll.

  8. Trump is a terrible person. But half the country doesn’t care. “What does that mean to me?” they ask.

    Thankfully, people are realizing the downsides of a narcissistic president when he refuses to wear a mask. Putting his vanity before the health (and vanity) of Americans at large is finally breaking through the “what does it mean to me?” barrier.

    1. It’s not half. It never was half. It’s probably down near one-third these days. Bigotry, backwardness, and superstition are not nearly as fashionable these days — especially in America’s educated, accomplished, decent communities — as they were.

      1. 5% difference might make or break an election, but its still negligible when it comes to understanding the conservative bloc.

        Whether his support is the majority or not, it is no excuse for ignorant, incomprehensible, unaware, stupid, foolish, idiotic, dopey, dense, brainless, mindless, clueless, dumb, obtuse, doltish, moronic, imbecilic, half-witted, unthinking — analysis.

        1. “Whether his support is the majority or not, it is no excuse for ignorant, incomprehensible, unaware, stupid, foolish, idiotic, dopey, dense, brainless, mindless, clueless, dumb, obtuse, doltish, moronic, imbecilic, half-witted, unthinking — analysis.”

          We can leave that kind of analysis to Mr. Trump, except he’ll refer to it as “the best” and draw on it with his Sharpie if it didn’t back his story.

    2. “Trump is a terrible person. But half the country doesn’t care. ‘What does that mean to me?’ they ask.”

      It seems to be more “Gee, the liberals sure get angry every time he does something to make things worse for America and Americans. Gosh golly-gee whillikers, I like it when the liberals get angry about something”

  9. In other words, other Presidents have used the pardon power more frequently but properly. Trump has used his less frequently but improperly (i.e., to protect himself from future prosecution).

  10. “This pardon is egregious, perhaps even corrupt, but it is perfectly lawful.”

    One can only believe the pardon is egregious and corrupt if they don’t believe the Mueller probe was an illegal witch hunt – which it was.

    1. Mueller probe was an illegal witch hunt!

      #Factsbedamned

      Stone admitted that he could’ve turned on Trump. Instead he chose to commit 7 felonies to protect Trump from prosecution. Including threatening to kill a witness and their dog.

      What a model citizen to receive a pardon!

      1. And Obama was born in Kenya.

        1. On or about April 9, 2018, STONE wrote in an email to Person 2, “You are a rat.
          A stoolie. You backstab your friends-run your mouth my lawyers are dying Rip
          you to shreds.” STONE also said he would “take that dog away from you,”
          referring to Person 2’s dog. On or about the same day, STONE wrote to Person 2,
          “I am so ready. Let’s get it on. Prepare to die [expletive].”

          Perhaps I was wrong about threatening to kill the witness’ dog. I’m sure you’ll admit that you’re wrong in dismissing the fact he threatened to kill the witness.

          Oh, you never admit to being wrong about anything, because you’re a liar through-and-through.

    2. Could you elaborate on your theory that the Mueller investigation was illegal?

      1. Sure he can. He’ll be glad to email you the instructions for making that special hat he has.

      2. Very simply, the avowed, and only legal purpose, of the Mueller SC investigation was to determine whether or not there had been Russian collusion with Trump or his campaign. But by the time that Mueller was appointed SC, the DOJ knew that there had been no collusion, or, at a minimum, that there was no probable cause that any collusion existed. Much of the justification was based on the Steele Dossier, which the DOJ had known for months was uncorroborated, likely false, and politically funded by Trump’s opponent. Moreover, by the time that Stone and Flynn were charged, the Mueller had turned all the stones over again, and had determined, to their own, highly politicized, satisfaction that there hadn’t been any collusion (ok – for Flynn, the knowledge that there was no there there went all the way back to before his infamous phone call with the Russian Ambassador). By the time of the Stone SWAT raid, the only remaining justification for the continued existence of the Mueller investigation was to investigate Obstruction of Justice – the circular investigation of obstruction of justice in their investigation of obstruction of justice – which was determined by DOJ OLC and the AG to have violated long standing DOJ rules, as well as the 4th and 5th Amdts.

        1. The Mueller investigation was completely warranted. The Russians did interfere in our election, Trump campaign officials did meet with the Russians during the campaign. Those two facts alone warrant an independent investigation. Even if at the end there was no evidence of collusion, the independent nature of the investigation will allow the public now and into the future to accept that conclusion better. It was best to investigate and settle the issue.

        2. Politically wrong, not legally wrong.

          That is not true. The appointment order directed Mueller to investigate

          (i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and
          (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and
          (iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a) and to prosecute any ” federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters” if he deemed it appropriate.

          https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-release/file/967231/download

          Are there specific actions undertaken in the investigation that you think exceeded that authority or were otherwise improper? Or are you saying that it was improper to appoint Mueller in the first place because DOJ knew (or should have known?) that he wouldn’t find anything incriminating? If so, can you provide some authority for that position? It seems to me that even if everyone affirmatively believed that there was no evidence of collusion, and independent investigation exonerating Trump If he were innocent would have served the public interest as much as one condemning him if he were guilty, and I don’t see any particular reason why it would be inappropriate to appoint a special counsel for that purpose.

          which was determined by DOJ OLC and the AG to have violated long standing DOJ rules, as well as the 4th and 5th Amdts.

          Can you provide a source for that?

        3. The Trump campaign provided detailed polling information to Konstantin Kilimnik. I think that fact alone gives you probable cause for collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

          Was the intention to get the information to people in the Russian government who would use it to interfere in the election to help Trump? What role did Trump play in the decision to provide this information? Paul Manafort knows the answers to these questions. Manafort signed a cooperation agreement in September 2018. Once Manafort reneged on that agreement, it became clear we would never be able to get answers to those questions that could be substantiated beyond a reasonable doubt. But that’s not the same thing as saying there was no collusion.

        4. “Very simply, the avowed, and only legal purpose, of the Mueller SC investigation was to determine whether or not there had been Russian collusion with Trump or his campaign.”

          Nonsense. They were looking into whether or not the Russians interfered with the election, and if so, how.

        5. Very simply, the avowed, and only legal purpose, of the Mueller SC investigation was to determine whether or not there had been Russian collusion with Trump or his campaign

          Even if every one of your factual claims was correct — and virtually none of them are — it would not make the investigation “illegal.”

          In fact, the phrase “illegal investigation” is barely coherent. Specific investigatory tactics can be illegal, but an investigation?

    3. ThePublius : “…the Mueller probe was an illegal witch hunt – which it was”

      Thought in today’s Right-wing hermetic bubble runs unfactual, primitive and child-like. Take the above example. In order to hold Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt” (much less illegal), you would need to affirm one of the below statements, preferably several :

      1. There was no initial reason to investigate.
      2. There was something illegitimate in Mueller’s appointment.
      3. Mueller conducted his investigation improperly.
      4. Mueller made no findings to sustain his inquiry.
      5. Mueller abused his office with his findings

      But ThePublius can’t answer yes to a single one without showing gross dishonesty or raw ignorance. Let’s run thru the list again :

      1. We’ve already had a finding on this. Despite objections to aspects of the investigation which preceded Mueller, Michael Horowitz, Inspector General of the Department of Justice, found there was adequate cause to open an inquiry. There are Right-types here convinced Durham will magically overturn that conclusion, but they had the same fantasies about Horowitz. They should prepare to be disappointed again.

      2. Mueller was appointed because Trump fired the director of the FBI and then bragged to Russian officials “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off” It was DJT’s imbecilic sleazy bungling which led to an Independent Counsel.

      3. & 5. Mueller ran a tight ship, kept away from the media & never leaked, stayed tight to his remit and wrapped-up his inquiry in just over a year & and a half. He shut down his investigation weeks before any election to prevent the possibility of influence. He was deferential to Trump, refusing to demand in-person testimony. His conclusions showed exceptional restraint, particularly concerning obstruction of justice. Compared to almost any previous special counsel, Mueller was a model of prosecutorial discretion and professionalism. Compare him to partisan hacks like Ken Starr and Brett Kavanaugh and you see a world of difference.

      4. But there were so many findings from Mueller, weren’t there? You had Trump’s campaign director giving private briefings to someone listed as a Russian spy. You had Trump’s son replying with glee (in writing) when told the Russian government wanted to secretly help his daddy become president. You had Trump’s son-in-law asking the Russians if he could use their secure communication lines so his own government couldn’t hear the discussion. And you had Trump’s fixer conducting secret negotiations with Russian officials on a massive business deal throughout the campaign, even while Trump repeated lied about that very same thing.

      That’s not to mention Mueller’s findings on Russia’s efforts to make Donald John Trump president. One example? They stole emails from John Podesta and sat on them for six months. Only after the Access Hollywood story broke and threatened DJT’s candidacy did they release the first batch – within two hours after “Grab’em by the *****” account first appeared. Their boy was in trouble; they tried to help.

      Doesn’t leave much room for ThePublius’ “witch hunt” gibberish?

    4. “the Mueller probe was an illegal witch hunt – which it was.”

      Is Trump an illegal witch now?

    5. ” the Mueller probe was an illegal witch hunt”

      If the Mueller probe was an illegal witch hunt, the illegal witch got away with it.

  11. “On March 21, 1973, President Richard Nixon and John Dean, the White House counsel, conferred in the Oval Office about ways to keep the Watergate scandal from consuming the Administration. The two men weighed the possibility of a pardon or commutation for E. Howard Hunt, one of the Watergate burglars. “Hunt’s now demanding clemency or he’s going to blow,” Dean said. “And, politically, it’d be impossible for, you know, you to do it.” Nixon agreed: “That’s right.” Dean continued, “I’m not sure that you’ll ever be able to deliver on clemency. It may be just too hot.” Neither Nixon nor Dean had especially refined senses of morality or legal ethics, but even they seemed to understand that a President could not use his pardon power to erase charges against someone who might offer testimony implicating Nixon himself in a crime.”

    Jeffrey Toobin, in today’s New Yorker. But Trump does not have the ethics even of Nixon.

    1. He doesn’t need to have any ethics, because his supporters and the GOP at-large have decided that the law no longer applies to them, and they don’t have to pretend to care about ethics anymore.

      Unfortunately, America is going to suffer irreparable harm once the GOP self-destructs, because that will leave us with only one major political party.

      And that won’t be good for anyone.

      1. Exactly this, Jason.

        If they don’t speak up against this, I do believe the Republican party will be effectively destroyed and one major political party is a nightmare.

        Trump has given them a gift, really. They can repudiate this clear abuse, stand against Trump now on unassailable grounds, and fairly effectively absolve themselves of their complicity over the past three years. Or they can stay silent or, worse, defend the Stone atrocity, and thereby cement in the public’s mind that the GOP is corrupt to the core.

        This is a bald move by Trump to move our norms to the standards by which he lives his life: Power and personal interest first. Always.

        The Republic will not withstand this assault if it is not repelled by people of good will subscribing to any ideology.

        1. “If they don’t speak up against this, I do believe the Republican party will be effectively destroyed and one major political party is a nightmare.”

          The fun part is they can speak up against this, and the result is exactly nil, because fait accompli.

      2. “America is going to suffer irreparable harm once the GOP self-destructs, because that will leave us with only one major political party.”

        The alliance of pro-business interests with social conservatives was always one of necessity and they never truly got along that well. On the other hand, the Dems have had the political cohesion of a band of cats, so I doubt they’ll stay anything even remotely like a united force once the Republicans implode.
        I think the country would be MUCH better off with zero “major” political parties than with two.

    2. “politically, it’d be impossible for, you know, you to do it.”

      Politically wrong, not legally wrong.

      1. You left out ethics. It is ethically wrong, obviously, to pardon someone to cover up your own crime.

        The Founders believed no President would get away with behavior so egregious, so they didn’t try to craft language making such abuse unconstitutional. Nixon thought them right. Trump thinks them wrong.

        The fate of the Republic rests on who is proven right.

        1. Crimes? Precisely what crimes are you alleging?

          1. The point of rewarding people who refuse to provide evidence (and who lie for you) to criminal investigators is precisely to prevent your crimes from coming to light. Stone brags he didn’t turn on Trump. He is rewarded. Meanwhile, Cohen comes clean once caught and remains in jail while Individual 1 pardons people more loyal than Cohen. It is corrupt. Cohen could have had his pardon too.

            1. Cohen recorded Trump without Trump’s consent. Seems like it’s his problem.

              1. You specialize in non sequiturs? He wasn’t convicted of recording Trump. He was convicted of being in a criminal conspiracy with Trump.

                1. Thankfully once he leaves office, Trump will be convicted of the same conspiracy.

                2. Yeah, and that’s why DOJ ethics guidelines have long prohibited naming people as unindicted co-conspirators in general, let alone plea agreements for unrelated crimes. Because prosecutors had frequently abused it as a way to smear people they didn’t like.

                  “You’re going down on this charge, but we’ll reduce your sentence if you agree to say that this guy I don’t like was involved in a criminal conspiracy with you.” And the bestest part is, if you don’t prosecute the guy you’re smearing, they never have a chance to prove that your smear is a lie.

                  1. Are you saying that Trump was unaware of these illegal payments? Despite having signed the checks? Seriously? The guy who used charity funds to pay his son’s $10 Boy Scout fees?

                    1. What illegal payments? It was never established in court that there were illegal payments.

                      If an unethical prosecutor wants to smear somebody, it’s too easy to find someone associated with them, nail them on SOME real crime, (Once you’ve got the man, you can always find SOME crime.) and then offer to drop it if they’ll just plead guilty to conspiring with the real object of the prosecutor’s ire.

                      And the nice thing about a plea deal, from the prosecutor’s position, is that once they bully somebody into making one, they no longer have to prove their case. Typically, the act the person pleads guilty to doesn’t even have to really be a crime, because the claim that it’s a crime is never going to be subject to adversarial process.

                      The person they supposedly conspired with never has the chance to subject it to that process, if they’re not indicted.

                      That’s why DOJ rules tell prosecutors not to name unindicted co-conspirators in plea deals. Because it’s been abused over and over to libel people under the color of law.

                      So, we can be fairly certain that Cohen committed some sort of real crime. But it wasn’t necessarily the crime he plead guilty to, because they didn’t have to prove THAT crime.

                    2. “It was never established in court that there were illegal payments.”

                      Nor was your premise that these were legal.

                    3. Brett,

                      It was never established in court that there were illegal payments.

                      Yes, it was. The prosecutors alleged it, Cohen agreed, the judge convicted and sentenced Michael Cohen because his participation in making illegal payments had been established.

                      Maybe you mean, there was no trial. No, but, it has been established that illegal payments were made. If instead of “established” you mean “established at trial”, then just say they weren’t established as illegal after a trial. But for purposes of the only person being charged, the fact of illegal payments was established.

                      If, instead, you mean that Trump, in his own criminal trial, could dispute the facts established in the Cohen proceeding, well, of course. That’s true in virtually every case. If that’s you standard, then essentially no fact is ever established because every fact established at a criminal trial can be disputed by a later defendant who did not have the opportunity to cross-examine, dispute, etc.

                      If an unethical prosecutor wants to smear somebody,…

                      You wouldn’t be presuming the prosecutors in the Michael Cohen case are guilty of some sort of misconduct or improper pressure on Michael Cohen are you? Not super-objective Brett. No. Definitely not him.

                      they didn’t have to prove THAT crime

                      They didn’t have to prove it at a trial. They did have to convince the judge it happened. They proffered evidence of it and Cohen allocuted to it and the judge accepted the proffer and allocution as sufficient to establish the crime, thereby establishing in court the fact of illegal payments.

                      If a jury trial has special significance for you, then say that. But don’t say not established. It was. Cohen cannot ever deny that fact in court again without getting his conviction overturned. And there was ample evidence to support the fact being established in court.

                3. You specialize in non sequiturs? He wasn’t convicted of recording Trump. He was convicted of being in a criminal conspiracy with Trump.

                  Hey, hey, let’s not be hasty. He was convicted of being in a criminal conspiracy with Individual-1.

              2. “Cohen recorded Trump without Trump’s consent.”

                And?

              3. Damikesc, Cohen didn’t need Trump’s consent, in New York only one participant needs to agree to a recording.

            2. Ah, so you would tell us what the crimes are, but they conveniently were preventing “from coming to light.”

              Which of course only goes to prove what a big successful conspiracy it all is.

              Gotta love conspiracy theorists.

              1. So your theory is that Stone lied, obstructed justice, threatened a witness, and bragged about not “rolling” on Trump because, joke’s on the FBI and Congress, there was nothing illegal going on to start with? There may or may not have been crimes, but, if there aren’t, none of that makes sense. Stone is crazier than he seems and committed crimes for no reason whatsoever.

                That’s a lot of effort to prevent evidence of no-crime from coming to light. And not much of a brag about not rolling if there is nothing to roll on.

                Stone didn’t roll, his sentence has been commuted without his serving a day.

                Meanwhile, Cohen did roll, he is in jail, again, after being let out due to Covid, but then brought back in because he wouldn’t promise not to talk.

                The Bureau of Prisons, a federal agency which, by virtue of that fact, is under Trump’s control, brought Cohen back to prison because he wouldn’t promise not to talk.

                Stone’s sentence commuted because he wouldn’t talk. Cohen kept in prison so he won’t talk.

                You guys really want us to be Venezuela, don’t you?

      2. Politically wrong, not legally wrong.

        I’m sure the Trump campaign is already printing the bumper stickers.

    3. “one of the Watergate burglars”

      So the guy was an actual burglar. He broke into a building to, ya know, spy on political opponents.

  12. As with most things Trump, things are not quite so black and white. True, Trump has used the pardon power to protect his people, and he’s certainly not above corruption. But he has also been the subject of incredibly bad faith attacks meant to take him down, in large part pushed by people in the prior administration, and the pardon power is one way to push back against that. So like a lot of what Trump does, there are good and bad reasons, both of which are likely true to some degree.

    1. Lazy both-sider-ism.

    2. Using the pardon power to keep your cronies from turning on you is not, in any ethical universe, “a good reason.”

    3. “Trump has used the pardon power to protect his people, and he’s certainly not above corruption.”

      Yeah, we know.
      “he has also been the subject of incredibly bad faith attacks meant to take him down, in large part pushed by people in the prior administration”
      Well, he’s obviously the first President to have every been subjected to bad faith attacks meant to take him down, so that excuses everything.

  13. My beef with Trump is that he sees how the system screws his associates and sometimes invokes the pardon power to protect those associates – but he doesn’t follow up with a general review of pardon applications in general with a view toward finding *other* examples of injustice.

    Does he presume that the unjust propensities of the system are only triggered by his allies? That they are the only ones targeted by dubious prosecutions by dubious prosecutors?

    If he lifts up one particular rock and finds corruption, he should be lifting up more rocks.

    This doesn’t mean pardoning willy-nilly, because I presume there are actual bad characters in the federal pen who ought to be there. But now that the President knows from his own experience that not everyone attacked by the system is attacked justly, he should use that knowledge to make a general clean-up, at the very least by using pardons.

    1. While Obama did some dubious pardons, he was able to find some worthy cases to pardon – which is not a surprise because when you start looking I doubt it would be hard to find cases worthy of pardon.

      Historically, Presidents used to pardon more than they do now. Kathleen Dean Moore, long before Trump was President, did some research on this.

      https://amzn.to/3293Rm0

      If there are fewer pardons with modern Presidents, either it’s because the system is fairer and has less need of Presidential intervention (yeah, right), or else (the true scenario) Presidents have grown more timid about pardoning someone controversial.

      1. Eddy,

        Does he presume that the unjust propensities of the system are only triggered by his allies? That they are the only ones targeted by dubious prosecutions by dubious prosecutors?

        I can’t believe you even ask this. The answer is yes.

        More precisely, the only unjust propensities of the system he dislikes are the ones that affect him and his allies. He sees all other unjust propensities of the justice system as either a feature (because it hurts his rivals) or background noise because he literally does not care if it does not affect him (as his use of the pardon power shows).

        The only question that is interesting is:

        Are voters okay with a President who views the world this way and who acts accordingly?

        1. So, which Presidential candidate do you support?

          Presumably one who does not have the characteristics you describe Trump as having.

          1. I think other politicians act out of blatantly political motives, and because of this they can be politically selective rather than ethically selectively when it comes to pardons or anything else. But I do think, for the most part, these politicians do at least HAVE ethics that they sometimes (or often) choose to ignore.

            But I do believe that Trump is indeed a rare bird and the NOVA lawyer is probably right.

            In the end the results might come out to look fairly similar in all cases, so does Trump’s peculiar way of thinking really matter all that much?

            Maybe.

            1. I agree Roman, that most politicians often act out of blatantly political motives and, so, are often politically selective rather than ethically selective in choosing pardon recipients. Plus, humans are well known to empathize more with people like them socially, religious, ethnically, etc., so pardons tend to be skewed toward insiders.

              And, yet, having some sense of ethics does matter.

              The Founders were aware of these human tendencies, so tried to structure the government in a way that reduced their abuse. They considered restricting the pardon power, but assumed Congress’s sense of ethics, if not a particular President’s, would protect against blatantly self-serving pardons. Nixon, the crook, believed the Founders were right and other political actors would not abide that level of self-dealing. Trump believes the GOP has rotted considerably since the 1970s. Given few GOP Senators (Romney and Toomey being exceptions) have spoken out on this, it would appear (to the shame of the country) that Trump is right.

              1. Yes, you’re right. But I think we agree that if Nixon thought he could use the pardon power unscathed, like Trump, he would have done it. He wasn’t kept in check by his own ethics… or probably not even the actual ethics of other politicians. He assumed that the voting public would not put up with it, and by extension his fellow politicians wouldn’t risk the scorn of the public.

                So really Trump goes with it because he thinks there will be no significant political cost from
                people who would otherwise support him and his party members.

                Don’t you think?

                1. Roman,

                  I absolutely agree about Nixon. But he was an actual crook. The difference is that there were people of his own party in Congress whose ethical standards wouldn’t allow it or, as you probably rightly suggest, the Republican voters’ standards. But Republican voters’ standards have become more lax, so Congress, so Trump does what Trump does with only so-called “RINOs” willing to speak up.

                  So, yes, you are right. It’s the moral deterioration of the Republican voter that permits Trump what was not available to Nixon.

                  1. “But he was an actual crook. ”

                    You should have stuck with that point, you were on the verge of understanding. Nixon was a real, provable crook. He did things that had no alternate, legal, explanation. Trump looks to you like a crook, because you evaluate everything he does from a hostile starting point. So you’re continually taking things like his conversation with the Ukrainian president, and seeing crimes where Republicans don’t, because they’re NOT starting from the presumption of guilt.

                    And you are.

                    That’s the difference, not declining Republican ethics, but Democrats adopting a presumption of guilt.

                    1. “That’s the difference, not declining Republican ethics, but Democrats adopting a presumption of guilt.”

                      Whereas your absolute inability to consider the possibility that Republicans might be guilty is in no way any kind of flaw of partisanship.

                    2. Brett,

                      You don’t have to start from a presumption of guilt to see the Ukraine episode as deeply disturbing. His obstruction of witness testimony and documents as deeply disturbing. And then Trump’s targeting of people who simply testified to what they knew as equally troubling.

                      And the pardon of Stone? The Roger Stone who was bragging that he didn’t roll on Trump and, ahem, really, really wanted to stay out of prison?

                      Surely, when you cast your rigorously objective gaze at these facts, you see the appearance of impropriety. Can we at least start with that agreement on the Stone pardon?

              2. I know Trump won’t do this, but the boss move would actually be to have his staff search for cases of similar obstruction convictions that have nothing to do with him, and pardon all of them. Then it gives the appearance that he’s fighting for an actual principle.

                Nobody would GENUINELY fall for it or believe at this point that he really is a crusader for a principle of any kind… but it would be fun to watch his supporters (who aren’t REALLY falling for it either) pretend they believe he’s a champion of justice.

                It couldn’t hurt him, and it would at least be entertaining to see play out.

                Plus he’d get a lot of libertarian support (they wouldn’t fall for his motives either, but there are probably PLENTY of cases of people who were railroaded by the Feds that are worth freeing for the sake of actual morality).

                1. Roman,

                  That is actually a boss move. I hope Trump doesn’t hear of it, he’d probably use it. On the other hand, maybe voters would be smart enough to see what was going on and it would make things worse. But I am not sure he genuinely cares at this point. I think he is all in on winning with his base which would basically give him free rein for the next four years. I mean: This is how he acts during his first term mere months before an election.

                2. You’re surprised that Trump isn’t making a move that doesn’t actually provide a financial reward for himself? Now if he could require that your proposed army of bureaucrats looking for clemency cases stay at one of his hotels at public expense, then it would be a surprise if he didn’t do it (or maybe not, if they’re creating huge piles of documents they expect him to actually read.)

          2. Btw, I flagged a comment by mistake while trying to close a pop
            up window on my phone. There really needs to be a function that makes you confirm a flag.

            I assume the mods know this happens a lot and don’t bother to check out unless there are multiple flags on a comment.

          3. “So, which Presidential candidate do you support? ”

            The ones who are not Donald Trump. Simplistic? Sure. But it’s how you guys wound up with him in the first place, since you desperately wanted a President who was not Hillary.

    2. “but he doesn’t follow up with a general review of pardon applications in general with a view toward finding *other* examples of injustice.”

      As I point out above, this is apples vs oranges: Most Presidents save almost all their pardons for after the last election in their last term, when they can’t have any political implications. You can’t do an apple to apple comparison between Trump and prior Presidents until he leaves office, due to this.

      At this point in his administration, for instance, Obama had pardoned basically nobody.

      1. “At this point in his administration, for instance, Obama had pardoned basically nobody.”

        From this we determine that Mr. Trump liked to hang out with people who were more likely to engage in federal crimes than was Mr. Obama.

        1. If the people Obama pardoned after his last election was past were really deserving of pardons, they were deserving of pardons before that election, and it was wrong of Obama to wait until the voters couldn’t respond to the pardon. Holding pardons until you’re on the way out suggests either moral cowardice or awareness that you’re acting improperly.

          Just issuing the pardons as you conclude they’re justified, without any reference to election timing, is the obviously moral thing to do. And yet, you’re trying to turn it into a slam against Trump?

          Obama didn’t have to pardon his confederates, he had the DOJ on a tight rein, they reliably wouldn’t prosecute his confederates. Remember when Lynch met with Clinton in that plane out on the tarmac to “discuss the grandkids”? That’s how corrupt AG’s act.

          Trump barely has any control over the DOJ even now, and the Obama holdovers were actually running an attempted coup from inside the DOJ. They were actively going after anybody associated with Trump, not deliberately sparing them.

          1. Timing is at best circumstantial evidence. The idea that it’s immoral to mitigate political costs is quite a stretch.

            Equating timing you don’t approve of with the facial substance of the Stone pardon is extremely weak tea.

            Blaming the DEEP STATE COUP to exonerate Stone and indict Obama is using right-wing fanfiction to boostrap your way into different right-wing fanfiction.
            It is convincing only to those who buy into the right-wing fever swamp narrative. You will have to do better if you want that to play in Peoria.

          2. “Trump barely has any control over the DOJ even now”

            Now that his toady, Bill Barr is running it? That’s your claim? Is that intended to be serious? The guy overruled a prosecution in which they’d already gotten a guilty plea and were going to sentencing.

            At least you’re openly conceding that Trump is ineffective as a leader. That much is true.

          3. Obama didn’t have to pardon his confederates, he had the DOJ on a tight rein, they reliably wouldn’t prosecute his confederates. Remember when Lynch met with Clinton in that plane out on the tarmac to “discuss the grandkids”? That’s how corrupt AG’s act.

            It is? Really? They don’t meet in secret behind closed doors? Or talk on the phone? Or use trusted intermediaries to convey messages? They meet in a public place in a context in which the fact of the meeting is readily known to everyone? And then they have an extended chat?

            1. Once you “objectively” know the AG is corrupt, then by definition everything they do is how corrupt AG’s act. So, corrupt AG’s act like this: They eat, they breathe, they love their kids. If you catch them interfering with the investigation and prosecution of their boss’s buddies, that doesn’t prove anything.

  14. The pardon power of the President has expanded dramatically through the back door. The Constitution only identified 3 federal crimes. The Crime Act of 1790, expanded the federal criminal code to only 17 crimes. Today, we have tens of thousands of federal crimes set out in federal statutes and regulations. Because of the nature of federalism, the founders certainly never anticipated the number of federal crimes that exist today. They limited the President’s pardon powers to federal crimes and thus when federal crimes were greatly expanded so did the President’s pardon powers for those crimes. Not sure why peple do not talk about this more.

    1. “Because of the nature of federalism, the founders certainly never anticipated the number of federal crimes that exist today.”

      Nonsense. The Founders explicitly set out to increase the power of the federal government because they saw the failure of the federal government under the Articles first-hand.

      On the other hand, much of the increased federal power comes from the fact that interstate activities are much easier to engage in today than they were in 1789.

      1. They set out to increase the power of the federal government from near zero, not to create Hobb’s Leviathan. The level of federal government they anticipated would be attacked as anarchism today.

        Well, except for Hamilton, who as I like to say, saw himself as planting an acorn to get an oak.

        The increased federal power today mostly dates back to the 17th amendment, which ended the last theoretical mechanism the states had for restraining the federal government.

        1. As per usual, you missed the point and your grasp of details is ineffective.

          The increased federal power today mostly dates back to the 14th amendment, because the 14th amendment was designed and intended to greatly increase the scope of the federal government’s authority and responsibilities.
          The Founders, fresh from dealing with a monarchy, initially sought to dilute their new government’s power. In their formulation, the state governments would defend the liberty of their citizens against encroachment by the federal government. The 14th changed that, and assigned to the federal government the duty to protect the liberty of its citizens from encroachment by the states. Allowing voters to select their own Senators by voting for them reduces nobody’s liberty, you fool.

  15. Be reasonable. Trump doesn’t see all unjust prosecutions. He saw the Stone one (if it’s unjust; I haven’t followed it). So he pardoned. That’s fine. He doesn’t have to allow all unjust prosecutions just because he fails to catch all of them, or even fails to catch most of them. Naturally, he will more likely notice the ones of his friends.

    If you think about it, you readers do zero about most injustices in the world, but you might be one of the rare people who at least tries to help their friends (or the common people who help relatives). It’s good that you at least try to stop injustice against your friends.

    1. It’s good that you at least try to stop injustice against your friends.

      Against only your friends? Not when you are in a position of public trust, it’s not!!

    2. you readers do zero about most injustices in the world,

      Neither my staff nor anyone else has raised any issues with me that I could do something about, so it’s true I haven’t used my power of pardon or commutation to correct injustices.

      WTF are you talking about? Are you suggesting that the ordinary citizen has the same power, and ability to investigate, as the President? The DOJ has an actual office that receives and reviews pardon applications, you know.

      It’s not as if Trump has no way of learning about possible injustices.

    3. Well yes, if there had been a good reason for commuting the sentence, then there wouldn’t be much reason to criticize Trump for issuing it.

      The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be any reasonable case that there was a good reason.

      1. That it was a political prosecution directly results in about half the population denying that there can have been any reasonable case for commuting the sentence.

        1. it was not a political prosecution.

          Trump’s own justice department prosecuted him. AG Bill Barr, known to block prosecutions of Trump favorites, said the prosecution, conviction, and sentence were all justified. If you’ve lost Bill Barr, you better buy some more tinfoil.

    4. “Trump doesn’t see all unjust prosecutions.”

      Of course not, that would require that he do his homework, and THAT’S not happening. That TV isn’t going to watch itself.

  16. the fact that Trump may benefit personally from his uses of the pardon power does not make the pardons or commutations any less valid.

    No, but it should. That would require a constitutional amendment. We should be thinking now about how such an amendment could be worded to have the desired effect.

    1. How about we just abolish executive clemency at the federal level?

      Seems to me that many avenues would remain to correct a wrongful conviction e.g. appeals courts, parole boards, etc. Do we need this archaic king-like mechanism today?

      1. Parole was abolished in the federal system in 1987.

    2. “That would require a constitutional amendment. We should be thinking now about how such an amendment could be worded to have the desired effect.”

      Require pardons to go through a third party review before they become effective. For example, the President could “nominate” felons for clemency but then if the Senate doesn’t vote to support the nomination, it would not be effective. Or, if you don’t trust Mitch with that, maybe a hearing before an Article III judge could be required. For that option, you’d need to decide if the presumption is that the pardon is valid or invalid. There’s policy arguments to go either way.

      1. Yeah, that would require an amendment. The pardon power is explicitly given to the President, nothing short of an amendment can require him to subject his pardons to somebody else’s review.

        1. “Yeah, that would require an amendment.”

          No shit, really? “Because I said so” won’t cut it?

          Did you happen to notice that I was responding to a call for an amendment, and asking how it should be worded? Hint: I quoted the relevant passage.

  17. Stone wasn’t pardoned. His sentence was commuted.

    Why?

    Something to do with his fifth amendment rights is the most likely reason. Surprised no ones addressed this yet.

        1. You don’t have a fifth amendment right after you’re convicted (or acquitted) either.

          1. But you do have a right to appeal.

            1. Not many people appeal their acquittals.

    1. I suspect it had something to do with Trump reserving “pardons” for people he thinks were innocent, and using commutations for people he thinks were just punished too harshly.

      1. So Trump thinks Stone is guilty, but deserves no punishment?

        I doubt it. Stone has said he wants to continue his appeal, so would have preferred commutation of sentence to accepting a pardon which some authorities consider an admission of guilt.

  18. What if a president were to establish a pattern of pardoning murderers for murdering people whom he (the president) didn’t like (in DC, so there would be no state charges to worry about)? So that there were always vigilantes supporting the president by murdering his rivals, and relying on him (correctly) to pardon them and shield them from punishment?

    Would that be illegal use of executive clemency? If so, why illegal? Constitutional, or unconstitutional?

    1. It’s legal and constitutional.

      This is a great example of how our republic runs on norms as much as it does on the Constitution.

      1. Pardon power is limited by impeachment…that is why most presidents only exercise their pardon power time in the final days of their presidency.

        1. Sure but in the above scenario then thugs could threaten Congress too.

          Or enough of Congress could be cool with it.

          1. We spend trillions of dollars every year specifically because thugs threaten Congress, and the rest of the country, too. For example, the thugs in Russia used to threaten us regularly (before they figured out a more cost-effective way to destroy our government) and there’s a thug in North Korea who likes to threaten Americans. This gave Trump the idea of driving tanks through D.C., and he’s been disappointed ever since the idea got shot down as unwise. He just wanted to get in and pretend to drive and blow the horn.

    2. The OP doesn’t address this clearly, which seems like an oversight. I think that

      1) The pardons cannot be undone, regardless of the motives for them.

      2) The President could potentially be convicted on a criminal charge like murder after he left office. You have the right to give money to pretty much whoever you choose, but that doesn’t protect you from a murder for hire charge. I think the pardon power would be treated the same way: the President has the power to pardon people but that doesn’t protect him from charge of murder or conspiracy to commit murder.

      3) An obstruction of justice charge would be a close call, because the alleged crime is so closely tied to the use of the power. I think that intent is still the determining factor here: Issuing a pardon with the intent is to obstruct justice is obstruction of justice.

      1. I’m extremely dubious that Congress can criminalize the use of the pardon power.

        1. They can impeach and convict, resulting in removal from office. Which is not at all the same thing as “criminalizing” use of pardon power. We’ve had a couple of centuries’ worth of not criminalizing losing an election; I’m not sure that tradition will survive Trump, either.

        2. Just as Congress cannot criminalize a legislative vote itself, but can criminalize the selling of the vote in exchange for a bribe, Congress can’t criminalize the pardon power, but can criminalize the conspiracy to commit murder in exchange for a pardon.

          1. I’m afraid the Trump infection is not unlike the coronavirus situation. The best approach is to just ride it out and hope it doesn’t kill the host before we can get over it.

    3. “What if a president were to establish a pattern of pardoning murderers for murdering people whom he (the president) didn’t like (in DC, so there would be no state charges to worry about)? So that there were always vigilantes supporting the president by murdering his rivals, and relying on him (correctly) to pardon them and shield them from punishment?”

      I would bet that a President who engaged in this practice wouldn’t survive a term in office. I’m guessing the assassin wouldn’t be pardoned by the vice president moving up to the Presidency, but might be after the next election that brought a different party to the Presidency.

  19. I’d remind people that Clinton pardoned his brother. He also pardoned Susan MacDougal for refusing to testify against him.

    1. Both had completed their prison sentences before their pardons, more than a decade before in the case of Roger Clinton. They are more comparable to Trump’s pardon of Conrad Black than the Stone clemency.

      1. “Both had completed their prison sentences before their pardons.”

        Not true. Susan MacDougal served time for civil contempt before the judge gave up. She was never convicted of criminal contempt.

        1. She was convicted of fraud for her role in Whitewater and served four months of a two year sentence before being released for medical reasons. That was what she was pardoned for.

    2. Pathetic.
      Those just highlight the much more clear quid pro quo in this case.

  20. You know, just from a purely pragmatic perspective, I would rather the POTUS have the power of absolute pardon than not. The Founders put this absolute power in there for very good reasons. Their reasoning, I think, has withstood the test of time.

    Every POTUS makes pardons and commutations of sentence for reasons known and unknown. Nobody will agree with all of the pardon/commutation decisions.

    1. I’d be more accepting of an absolute pardon power if there wasn’t a partisan structure in Congress that makes it 50% likely that whoever controls the House won’t impeach and 50% likely that the Senate won’t convict even if the power is abused. Nixon’s abuses of power were so obvious that even his own party would have removed him from Office. Trump’s abuses of power are even more obvious, but his partisans have blinders on.

      1. Nixon-era Republicans were not engaged in a “last gasp” approach to politics. They were part of the American mainstream and therefore (1) cared about their long-term reputation and (2) believed they would be rewarded for responsible conduct. Today’s Republicans know they are doomed demographically, so their thinking is entirely immediate-term.

        1. Nah, it’s just that Nixon actually was guilty of crimes, it wasn’t just a matter of his political enemies imagining it.

          Prove Trump actually committed a real crime, rather than just a “crime” that requires assuming he did something legal for bad motives, and you might be able to impeach him. But in the end, you had nothing on him.

          1. “Prove Trump actually committed a real crime”

            This isn’t as hard as you imagine. You can start with the marketing of “Trump University”, which wasn’t a university. False advertising is a crime.

            Or better yet, scroll up to look at what I said. I said Nixon’s abuses of power were obvious. They were (and are). So are Trump’s. Whether they are severe enough to lead to the destruction of the United States, or just the Republican party, won’t be known for decades. I’ll wait.

  21. In an ideal world, the pardon/commutation power would be exercised something like this:

    The presidential candidate announces some kind of general policy on pardons while running for office. Once elected, his staff create specific criteria based on the previously articulated policy. Convicted felons send in applications, non-political civil servants review them and pass on those that meet the criteria, and the president pardons or commutes as recommended.

    This system ensures that the president exercises his power in a way consistent with his mandate. It attempts to comb through the entirety of the federal prison system to give everyone a fair chance. It mitigates the possibility of corruption or personal bias.

    This is basically the system that has existed for over a hundred years. Individual presidents have relied on it to greater or lesser extents, and have have also pardoned people whose cases came to their attention through other means. Have previous presidents abused their power to help out friends, donors, and political allies? Yes. But while previous presidents pardoned hundreds or thousands of people they didn’t know and had never heard of, only occasionally pardoning people they knew, that is not the case with Trump. That kind of abuse accounts for the a large portion of his uses of the pardon. He doesn’t seem to care about the unjustly convicted or excessively punished unless they happen to be his supporters and allies.

    1. I don’t know… The whole point of pardons is that they’re supposed to help people who have been scr*wed by the system. So creating further bureaucracy to do that seems to kind of miss the point.

      1. A bureaucracy does what it is directed to do. At the US Attorney offices, prosecutors are incentivized to put as many people behind bars for as long as possible, and that’s what they do. If you have an office where the incentives are to locate all non-violent first-time offenders who’ve served over 5 years, or whatever that administration’s priority is for clemency, then that’s what they’ll do. There needs to be some kind of system in place. The alternative is just to have the president use his pardon whenever he happens to hear of someone who he thinks was treated unfairly. Even the most conscientious of presidents doesn’t have the time to personally review the tens of thousands of requests for clemency the federal government receives.

        1. “A bureaucracy does what it is directed to do.”

          Only to the extent the bureaucrats can be punished if they don’t. If they can’t be fired, they do what they think they SHOULD have been directed to do, instead.

          1. Are you living in a world where bureaucrats are issuing pardons?

            1. No, but I’m living in a world where bureaucrats are neither robots nor saints.

              1. Instead, you have them as a hundred thousand little kings.

                You have quite neatly excluded the middle between complete subservience and complete rebellion.

                You continue to think that professionalism is not an operable part of human nature. Which is wrong, and makes me wonder about you.

              2. The point of bureaucracy is to enforce uniformity. Decisions are made in advance, and then applied. So bureaucrats are rather robotic.

      2. ” The whole point of pardons is that they’re supposed to help people who have been scr*wed by the system.”

        In other words, people who are technically guilty of what they were convicted of, but not justly. As an example, a case that came up back when I was in law school.
        Dude with a car helps an acquaintance to move. The acquaintance doesn’t have a car, because he can’t work due to a medical condition. So the guy with the car loads up the acquaintance’s possessions, and the acquaintance, and heads off to the new home. along the way they get pulled over by a cop and it turns out that acquaintance’s possessions include his medical MJ plants. Yikes. The acquaintance produces his medical MJ card, so he is not arrested for MJ possession. However, it’s clear constructive possession for the other guy, because it’s in his car, and whatever’s in your car is in your possession, and he gets convicted. His crime consists of giving a ride to somebody in his car. You could attack the stupidity of constructive possession, but that would undercut the convictions of a whole lot of people convicted for transporting contraband. That won’t do. Better suggest this fellow gets executive clemency.

    2. Obama waited until his second term before launching his clemency program for nonviolent first drug offenders, a principled rules-based initiative that resulted in 1700 commuted federal sentences. I don’t believe he had campaigned on it, though.

  22. Eh…who cares. The left abuses power all the time and it is funny to see the faux outrage from them when the right finally wises up and uses the power structure to protect its own.

    Also, got to love the complete irony of the “rule of law” Dems that support illegal immigration, will close churches but endorse racist riots, and turn a blind eye to violence and destruction of property. Can’t wait until the cities turn back into their slum version of the 1970’s. (Oh wait, that is already happening in NYC!)

    Remember all those months the media would implore Trump to wear a mask? Well he finally did and what was the media response? Praise him for following the advice of “professionals”? Express support for finally “doing the right thing”? Nope. They made fun of him the very next day comparing photos of Trump to various villains. So there you go folks. Vote D if you like, but don’t expect to get four years of the Age of Aquarius.

    1. “The left abuses power all the time and it is funny to see the faux outrage from them when the right finally wises up and uses the power structure to protect its own.”

      You mean like all the complaints about “cancel culture” now that it isn’t focused on Dixie Chicks who weren’t properly worshipful of an R Prez or John Lennon being more popular than Jesus?

  23. Remember your fun with the Stone pardon, clingers, when your betters are enlarging the Supreme Court next year. Perhaps these chuckles will provide solace when you are starting to comprehend how much five conservative votes will be worth on the Obama Court.

    Me? I’ll still be having fun next year — enjoying the 6-5 victories for the liberal-libertarian alliance as well as celebrating the Volokh Conspiracy’s meltdown. I will feel bad, though, if Josh Blackman starts cutting.

    1. Well if liberals think packing the courts are the way to go then do it. I dare you. I don’t think you will like to results.

      1. Well, for one thing, I think the conservatives will run out of lawyers who can be appointed to judgeships before the liberals do…

  24. “The President has the unilateral authority to issue pardons. and this power cannot be constrained by Congress.”

    This is factually incorrect. The Congress can remove the President from the Presidency (including the pardon power) by impeaching and convicting him for high crimes and misdemeanors, of which abuse of he pardon power is an example. This doesn’t unpardon the criminal, but it does reduce repeat offenses. In theory the threat of such a response inhibits abuses.

    1. It’s mostly restrained by political forces, not the threat of impeachment, which is why Presidents typically wait until after their last election before issuing them.

      1. Swell, but the claim was the Congress has no power to constrain use of the pardon power, which is why I discussed that and not these “political forces”.

  25. Chelsea Manning did conspire with WikiLeaks, and was praised by the left and pardoned by Barack Obama.

    Roger Stone did not conspire with WikiLeaks.

    James Clapper, John Brennan, and Jim Comey lied to Congress regarding matters more important than anything Roger Stone ever thought about being involved with, and they have not only skated along free of negative consequences, but have been handsomely rewarded.

    Roger Stone did not skate along free of consequence, and was not handsomely rewarded.

    The Obama administration successfully obtained the assistance and contribution of at least 16 foreign countries in a baseless investigation of domestic political opponents, the Trump campaign.

    Trump did not ask Ukraine for baseless investigation into political opponents the Bidens.

    The WikiLeaks release of true and accurate information and documents that were politically embarrassing to the DNC, yet not national security sensitive, was decried as a great “subversion of our democracy.”

    The routine release of illicitly obtained documents by WikiLeaks, the Washington Post, NYT, BuzzFeed, whoever, has never been decried as a great “subversion of our democracy” when it is not politically embarrassing for the DNC, but instead is frequently praised as a great moral courageous action, even when it is sensitive to national security.

    1. Manning wasn’t pardoned, her sentence was commuted after serving seven years. That’s seven years more than Roger Stone.

      1. Fair point. And she intentionally stole and leaked sensitive classified information. Stone just committed the mundane “lying to Congress” that guys like Clapper and Comey shrug off like it’s nothing.

        1. Everyone forgets the witness tampering.

          Stone’s sentence of 40 months was in the 3 to 4 year range that Bill Barr asked for. A commutation comparable to Manning, whose sentence was 35 years, would have had him serve 8 months.

    2. “Trump did not ask Ukraine for baseless investigation into political opponents the Bidens.”

      How’s the weather over in your bubble?

  26. Why should Mr. Trump handle pardons any differently from the way he handles everything else?

    He singularly epitomises the goal of utilitarian philosophy, the greatest good for the greatest people. Why should the low-utility people be allowed to detract from the greater good of the greater people?

    1. “Why should Mr. Trump handle pardons any differently from the way he handles everything else?”

      Because it’s his job. A job he campaigned for, after he claimed he wanted to do it.

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