Trump's Pattern of Self-Serving Pardons Continues

President Trump's use of the pardon power confirms Anti-Federalist fears more than did his predecessors'.


Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump has been more stingy and self-serving in his use of the Pardon Power. He has provided pardons or clemency less often than his predecessors, and he has been more likely to issue pardons in ways that serve his self-interest, such as by pardoning political and personal allies and celebrities, including Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner's father.

The pattern has continued through Trump's pre-Christmas Pardon-palooza. As analysis by Harvard Law's Jack Goldsmith and Matthew Gluck shows, Trump continues to use the power to serve his own self interest. Their data, collected here, finds the following (as of 12/24):

  • Trump has issued 94 pardons and commutations;
  • 68 of the 94 advance his political agenda;
  • 40 of 94 recipients had a personal connection to the President;
  • 20 of the 94 had some sort of celebrity status;
  • 86 of the 94 had some sort of personal or political connection to the President;
  • Only 7 of the 94 appear to have been recommended by the DOJ Office of the Pardon Attorney.

Even though these pardons are self-serving, and some even appear to be rewards to those who refused to provide evidence against the President in various investigations, these are all lawful uses of the power. Even pardons granted for corrupt purposes are valid (though actions taken to secure a pardon may be unlawful). Yet while Trump may issue pardons to protect himself, he cannot issue a self-pardon, for reasons I explained here.

UPDATE: For a different take on the data, see this thread.

NEXT: Today in Supreme Court History: December 24, 1798

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  1. Meh.

    Better this than Obama’s effective infringement on federal law, with his mass pardons.

    1. Obama’s “mass pardons” focused primarily on non-violent drug offenders with hefty sentences imposed under our draconian federal drug laws.

      Trump’s focusing on people who lied to the government in order to prevent the American people from knowing about his private dealings with the Russians – much of which remains obscured from public view.

      One of these subverts a legal regime that many consider unjust but that has proven difficult to reform through political means. The other subverts the very possibility of there being any “rule of law.”

      But I’m sure the assumed race and class of the beneficiaries of these exercises of the pardon power have nothing to do with your conclusion.

      1. The Russian collusion conspiracy lives on, facts be damned. As for Obama’s pardons largely fit into the first category, advancing his sociopolitical agenda. Extra points for the mindless accusation of racism, the hallmark of the progressive.

        1. Cultists continue to deny reality, while Trump continues to pay out his quid pro quo for obstruction of justice.

          You people are the worst. I look forward to your imminent relegation back to the dumpsters from where you came.

          1. Yep, I am looking forward to the GOP returning to its roots of slaughtering babies in Iraq, shipping jobs to China, turning Mexicans into Americans, and making a pedo House Speaker!! George P Bush in 2024!!!

        2. And the hallmark of the Trumptard is to claim, without evidence, that the “Russian collusion conspiracy” has no basis in fact, despite the reams of reports showing walking through exactly what we do know. What do you suppose these pardonees were lying about, exactly?

          And it’s strange that you complain about an insinuation of racism while decrying Obama’s pardons as furthering some “sociopolitical agenda.” Yeah, what agenda is it that you’re talking about, hm?

          1. They weren’t, or at least not about Russian collusion.

            For example Gen Flynn plead (then unpleasant) guilty to lying to FBI agents about not remembering the specifics of a particular phone call (with the Russian Ambassador). Except that the two agents who interviewed him found hi credible at the time. That exonerating evidence was apparently removed from the later versions of their DD 302 notes, the original deleted from the FBI’s Sentinel 302 change management system, and the later versions, with the exonerating information excised, were provided the defendant and his attorneys. They never bothered to explain how that could have happened, or which high ranking official authorized the override that made it possible.

            What we are mostly talking about are process crimes with little, if any relationship with Russia and Russian collusion.

            1. Yeah. Lying to the investigators and refusing to cooperate once Trump’s attorneys dangled the pardon in front of the relevant witnesses, along with witness tampering sure sounds like things we don’t punish people for.

              They obstructed the investigation and lied to protect Trump, and he’s paying out his end of the bargain now with pardons. “Process crimes” is the Trumptard’s shout for “it’s ok because I have no moral compass with which to care about reckless and rampant corruption.”

              1. Ask Scooter Libby or Martha Stewart. You are an idiot if you don’t think the “making false statements” statute is abused by federal prosecutors.

                1. Standard Trumptard whataboutism. Can’t be bothered to discuss what Trump actually did, so you bring up unrelated shit.

                  1. It’s not unrelated. Lying to investigators shouldn’t even a crime, much less the way it’s implemented today.

                    1. As currently implemented, “lying” consists of little more than failing to have a perfect memory.

                    2. Yes, which is why I wouldn’t talk to any federal investigator about anything.

      2. “Obama’s “mass pardons” focused primarily on non-violent drug offenders with hefty sentences imposed under our draconian federal drug laws.”

        And what percentage of criminal convictions are plea deals with the more serious (violent) offenses being dropped in exchange for the plea to the “non-violent drug offense”?

        Now I’ve read Harvey Silverglate’s 3 Felonies a Day (and recommend the book) — I understand the pressure to plea — but I also don’t think that all of these purported “non-violent” offenders were blushing virgins, either.

        And what were they initially charged with???

        1. I’m sure you can find that out for yourself, buddy.

  2. I love how Trump makes the Democrat cheaters feel.

    1. All these prosecutions were pretextual lawyer political attacks on an adversary. They were lawfare. All were paper work nitpicking. There is an affirmative duty to lie to the FBI, a group of Deep State, lawyer traitors to our country. They allow billions of federal crimes. They use their power for rent seeking political attack purposes. Lawfare should be criminalized as a form of perjury. Mueller should be arrested and imprisoned for seeking to overturn the result of the 2016 Election, in insurrection against the constitution. Give Mueller 10 years at hard labor in federal prison.

      1. ^ Party of law and order having a little discussion about how the rule of law is unfair to those in positions of privilege.

        1. And, bonus, the “law and order” party arguing for explicitly political prosecutions of people who did their assigned task (which was to investigate a potential crime) with professionalism. And a task assigned by a political appointee of the person whose election they, allegedly, were trying to overturn.

          Missing from this is how the talking point that Mueller “exonerated” Trump fits into the new theory that Mueller should go to prison for trying to overturn the election. Could he really exonerate Trump and have been trying to overturn the election? After being appointed by Trump’s attorney general? Be serious.

          1. Does Comey’s denial of knowledge of having been briefed by the CIA that Hillary was working up a Russian Collusion scam and his denial of knowledge of the authorship of the dossier until after he was fired scream “professional” to you? Add to that his leaking of materials to insure the installment of a special council (his own testimony) when by that time he should have known it was all BS displays an incredible incompetence or blatant disregard for truth.

            Lock him up! At least for a few weeks as was done to others.

            1. The call was for Mueller to be locked up. Obviously, you think that was a ridiculous suggestion as you immediately pivot to a new squirrel.

              On the new subject you’ve brought into the discussion, you are entirely mischaracterizing facts. I’ll give you the benefit of doubt that your mistake was honest.

              The CIA briefed Comey etc., on a Russia allegations. That you completely credit Putin in this matter, says a lot about you. The fact is that there were a lot of connections between Trump and the Russians and between Trump’s campaign and the Russians. Contacts he lied to the American people about and that his various stooges lied to Congress and/or the FBI about. It was worthy of investigation. Trump obstructed justice at nearly every turn. Why would he if nothing to hide?

              This is the context in which Mueller did not find a chargeable offense with respect to a conspiracy between Trump and Russia. Hardly an exoneration.

              But Trump started with “lock her up” and he and his supporters seem determined that we should be a banana republic.

              1. Who is mischaracterizing facts? NOVA wrote: “The CIA briefed Comey etc., on a Russia allegations. ” Comey was briefed by the CIA that russian intelligence heard that Hillary was cooking up a story of Trump colluding with russia in order to deflect attention away from her very real home based server issue. That Comey was briefed on this is not in dispute, it is a matter of record. However Comey denied knowing about that briefing -he did not merely downplay that intel as coming from russia. Also he denied knowing that the dossier was paid for by the Dems. Even Inspector Clouseau could connect those dots, which is why Comey had to deny knowing those facts(he was briefed and the dossier came from Dems).

                That you claim I credited Putin with anything says everything about you. Even someone completely skeptical of everything russian ought to have paused when a dossier paid for by the opposition party, and itself possible russian disinformation, surfaces in last months of the election.

                1. Mike,

                  Comey was briefed by the CIA that russian intelligence heard that Hillary was cooking up a story of Trump colluding with russia in order to deflect attention away from her very real home based server issue.

                  And yet you are offended that I said, according to you, that you “credited Putin with anything”. Alleging that Russian intelligence “heard” is alleging that their report of what they “heard” is credible.


                  “Other officials [besides the corrupt, lying, sycophantic Ratcliffe] — including Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel appointed by the Justice Department, and the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee — had evaluated and rejected the information in the years since, according to three current and former officials familiar with those inquiries.” (NY Times, Sept. 29, 2020)

                  In other words, the story was Russian disinformation. But here you are spreading it some more.

                  That Comey was briefed on the story as you characterize it is very much in dispute. Other than that, it isn’t clear what you are saying he lied about. A link or source for his alleged lie would be useful.

                  You seem to put a lot of weight on the Steele dossier. If you know anything, you know that the counterintelligence investigation began before the dossier, the dossier was never used by the Clinton campaign, the dossier was just one footnoted piece of evidence in getting the warrants. Basically, you seem to think it is some sort of smoking gun, but it had only minor relevance to any subsequent events.

                  “ought to have paused” and done what? Nobody did anything with it in the campaign and it was not particularly important to the ongoing counterintelligence investigation at that point and the fact that the major players didn’t do much with it suggests, in fact, that they didn’t accept it as completely credible, if at all credible.

                  1. Also, your initial mischaracterization:

                    having been briefed by the CIA that Hillary was working up a Russian Collusion scam – Mike Hansberry mischaracterizing a briefing on Russian disinformation.

                    Now you express faux outrage that someone called you on spreading Russian disinformation as fact. You want to backpedal after you’ve been caught doing Putin’s work for him. Collect your rubles, but don’t pass Go.

          2. Mueller should have known in a very short time that the russian hoax was just that. But he kept the investigation open until after the mid-term elections and allowed the constant BS of the Dems and MSM to fester.

            Mueller’s testimony before congress displayed for all to see the emptiness of the Dem charges. Mueller’s denial of knowledge of Fusion GPS was a shocker. Everyone has bad days but Mueller’s testimony was a farce. Had that farce occurred before the mid-terms there very well may have been a different majority in the House after the mid-terms.

  3. And this is different from other presidential pardon patterns … basically never.

        1. Rossami made the claim. It’s their responsibility to back it up when questioned.

          And your input, coming from a cultist who never backs up a goddamn word he says, is beyond laughable.

            1. Truth hurts. Maybe you should back up your claims with evidence.

              Oh…right. That would require you having evidence in the first place.

              Never mind then. Continue on with your conspiratorial delusions.

            2. And that’s how you know Ben’s got nothing and lost the argument.

              1. No, that’s specifically for Jason. Not worth talking to.

                1. Ben,

                  Not worth talking to.

                  You manage to be both the pot and the kettle. Jason actually adds something to the conversation. You never do. You do lie though. But that really detracts from the conversation.

                  Getting caught lying just this past week is why Ben probably doesn’t bother with “facts” any more.

                  1. Why would anyone ever talk to you either?

          1. No, actually it was the original post above that made the implied claim. Which you and bernard appear to be accepting unquestioningly. You are saying that Trump’s pardon’s are unusual. I say there is no such evidence – but I can’t prove a negative. You have the obligation to prove the positive – that these actually are unusual.

            1. If only the original post had provided some kind of source, say a link to a Google Doc full of data…

            2. Okay:

              I am not aware that either Bush or Obama pardoned anyone who was convicted of lying in an investigation that involved their own alleged misconduct, thereby creating an appearance of obstruction of justice. Trump has pardoned Stone, Flynn, Manafort, Papadopoulos, van den Zwaan, all with connections to Trump’s campaign and/or the Mueller investigation.

              I am not aware that Obama or Bush pardoned any convicted murders. Trump pardoned four men convicted of murdering 14 innocent people. And don’t try to equate Oscar Lopez Rivera. He served 35 years of a 55 year sentence, the remainder being commuted (no pardon) and he wasn’t convicted of killing anyone. So, not at all the same.

              I am not aware that Bush or Obama pardoned any of their (extended) family members. Trump pardoned Jared’s father.

              And on and on. But these are the most egregious and they are “unusual”. (Though Roger Clinton perhaps makes the Kushner pardon not “unprecedented”, pardoning family members remains “unusual” and unseemly.)

              Your turn.

              1. And just wait to see how many Trumps and Kushners are on the next pardon list.

                1. Right? It will be surprising if the pardons don’t get even more outrageous as we go and he realizes more and more that his days as President are done.

              2. “I am not aware that either Bush or Obama pardoned anyone who was convicted of lying in an investigation that involved their own alleged misconduct, thereby creating an appearance of obstruction of justice.”

                Was there not a 2+ year independent council investigation into the alleged misconduct? Do we live in a country where mere allegations count for more than evidence? Mueller’s team could not find evidence of collusion let alone evidence that Trump was involved. On the other hand the evidence that the alleged russian collusion was a hoax perpetrated by Trump’s political opposition is overwhelming. So why would the president not pardon those who were caught up in the investigation of a non-event?

                I do agree Trump should not have pardoned Manafort since Manafort did hide income, and Trump’s claim that the gov went after Manafort in order to get to him is besides the point that the crime of hiding income occurred. Manafort should spend as much time in jail as others who did same crime, no more, no less.

                1. Even accepting your dubious premise, what does that have to do with pardoning people who were convicted of lying to Congress and/or the FBI during the investigation and who publicly bragged that they didn’t “turn” on Trump?

                  Surely if a President Hillary Clinton had pardoned, say, Christopher Steele after he was found to have lied to investigators about his dossier, you wouldn’t be so sanguine? Even if a special counsel investigation into Hillary’s campaign concluded insufficient evidence to charge criminal conspiracy? Be honest, for crying out loud.

                  The Stone, Flynn, etc., pardons are terrible.

                  At least you admit Manafort is a criminal who deserved to serve time.

            3. The initial claim by Adler is that Trump’s pardons are self-serving. There is evidence to support such a statement that is beyond rebuttal.

              YOU alleged that Trump’s pardon behavior is no different than other Presidents. You claim you can’t possibly prove this to be the case.

              If his pardons are precisely the same as everyone else’s, then you certainly should be able to prove it.

              If you have no evidence upon which to base your opinion (because otherwise you’d be able to prove it), then your opinion is based on nothing whatsoever.

              When you believe something that isn’t based on any reality or proof, then what is anyone to make of your input other than farcical nonsense?

              1. The initial claim by Adler is that specific numbers of his pardons are self-serving.

                It’s to Adler’s credit that he links to the refutation of his own numbers.

                1. He links to some criticism of the data. That does not necessarily refute hos point.

                  1. If the criticism is factual, it amounts to a refutation.

                    1. Brett,

                      You are smarter than that. It alters the percentages of political pardons, not that Trump’s pardons are normal or otherwise defensible.

                      Jason’s challenge to you was to defend your evidence-free assertion that Trump’s pardons of Stone, Flynn, Manafort, etc., the Blackwater Four, etc., were “no different” than pardons by other presidents. You just quibble with whether 68 of the pardons were to advance his political agenda or only 54 or 38 or whatever number you think is accurate.

                      Those specific pardons are qualitatively different from other Presidents’ pardons.

                    2. If it alters the percentages, it “refutes Alder’s numbers”. That’s what I said it did. He claimed specific numbers of pardons were self-serving, I disputed his specific numbers.

                      Trump would be an unusual President indeed if none of his pardons were self-serving.

                    3. Brett,

                      It’s amusing how you work so hard to admit any wrong by Dear Leader. That’s how you know you’ve joined a cult, when Dear Leader is beyond criticism, even for obvious ethical/moral lapses.

                      You are capable of better. I know you are.

    1. Well, one does need to ask how many of the criminal prosecutions should never have been brought in the first place — and if I remember correctly, Clinton pardoned a few people who had been similarly prosecuted for political reasons during the 1960’s. Or was that Carter — one of them did.

  4. Did Adler say, Harvard Law’s Jack Goldsmith and Matthew Gluck? Dismissed.

    They are invited to move to Venezuela, where they would fit in well with the big government philosophy taught in these law schools. These schools should be defunded and closed by force.

    1. Yes, I can see how you might get the impression that the guy who was George W. Bush’s head of the OLC might be a partisan Democratic hack…

      1. He didn’t say anything about administrations’ partisan politics, he mentioned law schools’ philosophies. You continue to have an issue reading what you want rather than what is on the page, it seems.

        1. Given the incoherence of DavidBehar’s comments, I don’t think arguing about its meaning would be a good use of either of our time. Merry Christmas!

      2. I do not differentiate between Scalia and Goldberg. They are all Deep State operatives, seeking to destroy our way of life.

        1. Your posts are shameful in how craven they are. Do better!

      3. Perhaps George W. Bush himself was a partisan Democratic hack. 🙂

        Objectively speaking, one has to realize that the Bush family — “43”, “45”, JEB — weren’t/aren’t aligned with the Reagan/Trump wing of the party.

        1. The “Reagan/Trump wing” is like saying the “Yankees/Red Sox wing” of baseball fandom. It’s impossible to be more wrong.

  5. “Only 7 of the 94 appear to have been recommended by the DOJ Office of the Pardon Attorney.”

    Personally, I’m not a fan of limiting pardons to the guilty but reformed/rehabilitated, and refusing to use pardons to reverse unjust convictions, so I’m not a fan of letting the DOJ filter pardon requests.

    1. The DOJ process “filters” pardon requests so as to avoid the appearance of using the pardon power to further corrupt aims. By making the process appear and operate as independent of the president’s personal interests, it helps to protect the president from scandals caused by pardoning, say, a rich donor who had been convicted of tax evasion and violating a national embargo on an enemy state.

      The fact that Trump doesn’t care about this makes the process seem rather moot, true, but that’s why it’s there.

      1. The DoJ is a prosecutorial arm of the government, they’re going to “filter” a lot of stuff, not just the corrupt cases.

        1. Yes — I’m reminded of the four innocent men that the FBI had to pay $101M to when the Whitey Bulger investigation brought out that the FBI knew they were innocent.

    2. Experts in justice should probably be consulted in matters of justice.

      Their word is not determinative.

  6. John Podhoretz:

    So now we come to what are certainly the most outrageous, unseemly, and disgusting acts of the Trump presidency—the pardons he is now tossing to cronies and loyalists whose crimes are undeniable but whose fealty to Trump himself is unmistakable. […] But now, this production of Fiddler is nearing its end. And now I’m Tevye again. Trump has crossed the final line. He is a tinpot Banana Republic gangster, a sordid loser, a disgrace, and a fraud, and a crook. There is no other hand.

  7. This reads as personal Trump animus.

    To be fair, Adler would have analyzed Trump’s pardons vs those of other recent presidents.

    Pardons, by their very nature, involve people convicted of crimes, people which might not meet Adler’s approval. That was true before, except that Adler didn’t much care.

    1. Glossing right over the inconvenient fact that Trump is paying out the rewards to those who obstructed investigations for him, and purely partisan pardons.

      Where’s your excuse for the Blackwater war criminals, because Erik Prince happens to be the brother of Betsy DeVos?

      Let’s see how far you’re willing to bend over and sell yourself for someone who doesn’t give a shit about you or anyone else.

      1. But, as the twitter thread he honestly linked to pointed out, the only basis for calling a lot of these pardons “political” is that Republicans favored the pardons. Even in cases where Democrats did, too!

        If you’ve got enough animus towards Trump, you can find evil in anything he does.

        1. If you are a cognizant, literate human, you can find evil in anything Trump does.

        2. And why do republicans favor them? Thanks to Trump, the GOP no longer has a platform; no principles explicitly stated. So what principle do these pardons satisfy?

          Republicans want these pardons because they protect and reward people who lied to investigators to cover the truth about Trump’s dealings with Russian government agents.

          That’s it. That’s the real deal. It’s as simple as a gang member being rewarded for keeping mum.

          It’s called corruption. This is about as basic and easy to recognize as it gets.

          1. “Thanks to Trump, the GOP no longer has a platform;”

            That isn’t just wrong, it’s effectively backwards.

            First, the GOP does have a platform: They adopted the 2016 platform without changes.

            Secondly, they did this in order to deny Trump any input into the contents of the platform. So, not just wrong, backwards.

        3. As usual, you have no evidence, and cite no specifics in your defense of Trump’s self-serving corruption.

          I challenge you to name ONE pardon that Trump shouldn’t have granted. Bonus points if you’re man enough to mention someone personally affiliated with Trump, or someone who is a devoted Trump supporter.

          1. Easy. The original post already names three:

            Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner’s father

            1. The challenge is to Brett, who is notably silent. Hopefully, it isn’t an aneurysm brought on by the cognitive dissonance of having to admit his Dear Leader maybe did something…gasp….wrong.

              The pardons are gross. Anyone with any sense and integrity would admit that these aren’t all justified. Such a person could find at least one to criticize.

              1. Brett is always silent when challenged.

                1. It is telling how many Trump sycophants have retreated into near silence. They can’t even put their hearts into their feeble whataboutisms anymore. It must be quite unsettling to see Dear Leader flailing incoherently, unethically, and dangerously. Far from invincible, or “normal but just more brash”, or any of the other excuses or euphemisms made for his outright corruption, utter incompetence, and pathetic pettiness, he is just a very, very small man who diminishes himself by the day. And those who gave him cover and inflated his ego with their obsequiousness.

                  The whole thing is gross and, it would appear, they are in the process of realizing just how much they, the Bretts of the world, have debased themselves.

              2. Hard to figure why I might not be online so much these last couple of days. Could it be holiday travel? (Biltmore by candlelight is gorgeous, BTW.)

                Anyway, “But, as the twitter thread he honestly linked to pointed out, the only basis for calling a lot of these pardons “political” is that Republicans favored the pardons. Even in cases where Democrats did, too!”

                So, why don’t you just follow Adler’s link?

                1. Oh, sorry. Those of us who are following the advice of the Covid experts by staying home and avoiding family, friends, and strangers forgot that not everyone feels obligated to play by the rules — not even for one year.

                  1. Myself, I’m somewhat sorry about people who think the Covid “experts” actually know what they’re doing in recommending these absurd lockdowns. If they really think these rules important, why don’t they follow them themselves? That said, I rigorously complied with NC social distancing dictates while there, which is more than you can say of any number of public officials issuing orders they don’t follow themselves.

                    We even made a point of leaving Biltmore by 10PM, in light of the virus’s increased virulence late at night, a trait I can see no biological basis for.

                    1. How decent of you to feel “somewhat sorry” for those of us who believe we have a social obligation to do whatever we can to avoid spreading the virus.

                    2. Nice of you to show up. Still can’t answer the challenge presented to you.

                      Surprise, surprise.

                2. Brett,

                  Adler’s link does not demonstrate the pardons are all justifiable. You notably fail to identify a single one that you find improper.

                  Avoiding this question is confirming everything said above, Christmas travel or no.

                  Biltmore is beautiful.

            2. Stone did nothing. Manafort was punished for doing, LITERALLY, the identical thing Podesta did…except Podesta did not suffer any repurcussions.

              Conditional justice is ok now.

              1. Stone lied under oath and was convicted by a jury.

                Manafort was convicted by a jury and punished for five counts of filing false tax returns, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failing to disclose a foreign bank account. Then he plead guilty (which requires being under oath) to conspiracy to defraud the United States and witness tampering. He also admitted to most other charges against him both in the DC indictment and that resulted in a hung jury in the Virginia proceedings.

                Podesta was not charged with any of those crimes. It would appear that, to the extent he failed to file necessary documents for working with Manafort’s organization (which was working to burnish the image of the execrable Viktor Yanukovich), they filed the paperwork years before the 2016 campaign and before the investigation. Which suggests they did what they were supposed to when they learned what Manafort’s firm was doing, which likely made prosecutors think the earlier failure to file paperwork was more oversight (because corrected before investigation) than intent to deceive. Moreover, Podesta fully cooperated with Mueller, whereas Manafort rather notoriously did not. And I know of no evidence that Podesta committed the multitude of tax fraud, witness intimidation, and other crimes of which Manafort was convicted.

                Your equivalence is false, aside from doing nothing to justify the Manafort pardon.

                (Also, it was the Trump DOJ that prosecuted Manafort and that decided not to prosecute Podesta. Manafort’s own political team went on a political crusade against him, but spared Podesta for “LITERALLY” (lol) the same thing? Your story doesn’t even make sense, aside from being contradicted by facts.)

        4. the only basis for calling a lot of these pardons “political” is that Republicans favored the pardons.

          Well, some. But you haven’t answered Jason’s points, at all.

  8. What if people tried to have something to offer besides shallow complaints?

    If you wanted someone else pardoned, you might have advocated for it and tried to reach out to the President or his people and made your case for it.

    1. Didn’t he let a whole bunch of Black people out of prison?

      I don’t quite know the specifics, and doubt that the folk released much cared, but a while back there were a lot of unknown Black folk thanking him for getting them out.

      Why isn’t this being counted?

  9. I respectfully disagree — Trump CAN pardon himself.

    Show me where — in the text of the Constitution — it says he can’t.

    It may be unseemly, it may be legally unwise, but I don’t see why he can’t do it. Show me where it says “except himself” in the text of the Constitution….

    1. The First Amendment specifies that Congress can not enact any law “infringing” the freedom of speech or the right to peaceably assemble. No exceptions. No carveouts for time, place, or manner restrictions. No acknowledgments that maybe it’s okay to restrict speech over public airwaves. No child pornography or terrorism exceptions. And so on.

      The reason why our First Amendment law is nowhere near that absolute is that the Supreme Court has reasoned that there are just too many forms of “speech” that the Founders could not reasonably be supposed to have been intending to protect, with the First Amendment. Perjury. Fraud. Incitement to riot. So we have this whole body of law around this question.

      It seems to me, then, that some explanation needs to be given for why we wouldn’t take the same analytical approach to the pardon power – would the Founders have intended to give the President the power to pardon his own crimes? – or, in the alternative, for why the centuries of Supreme Court jurisprudence holding that the First Amendment isn’t as absolute as it is, by its terms, is all mistaken.

      Most legal experts would not view the pardon power to be obviously so absolute that the president can pardon his own crimes before anyone even bothers to charge him for them. They would view the question, at least, to be a challenging one that needs to be addressed in a less conclusory way than you bother to venture. Others would go further to question whether the president can pardon crimes that haven’t been charged.

    2. Fortunately, Adler has provided a link to the argument he made.

  10. I got two words for you:

    Mark Rich.

    So suck on it crybabies.

    1. I’m not following.

      Are you saying that the Mark Rich pardon was fine, so these pardons are also fine? Or are you saying that because a Democrat did a bad thing 20 years ago, Trump should also do bad things?

      1. There was significant howling and bitching about Rich, and we were told “Too bad, so sad. Suck it up buttercup. It’s a plenary power and there ain’t nothing you can do about it. “

        So, sauce, goose, gander.

        Has nothing to do with who did what when. Don’t like it? Amend the constitution to prevent this from happening in the future.

        Bitch away. Cause there’s not a goddamned thing you can do about it. Ex post facto and all that.

        1. So you agree that these pardons are bad?

        2. A few whackjobs who are getting appropriately dogpiled aside, I don’t think anyone is suggesting that these pardons aren’t effective, or that anyone do anything to correct the injustice except criticize them. Rather, the point is that most of these pardons are unjust and inappropriate, and that Trump deserves criticism for doing it. It’s certainly not the first time a president has used the pardon power inappropriately, nor is it the worst thing Trump has done. But that still doesn’t make it right.

          1. IIRC there were some investigations post-Rich.

            But nothing like that in the offing here. Or at least not so far.

  11. I agree with the larger point that these pardons are for the most part indefensible. But some of the coding here appears to be a bit tendentious, as described in this Twitter thread:

    I’m also not sure that the fact that Trump exercised his pardon authority directly instead of deferring to the DOJ administrative apparatus is itself worthy of condemnation.

    1. No defense needed. So that works out fine.

  12. Nixon’s confederates came to him asking for pardons, and he wouldn’t do it because it’d look that much worse.

    Trump’s pardoning his convicted confederates is indefensible. Which you can see by the usuals around here having to change the subject extra hard, or just go full own the libs nihilist.

    1. Didn’t Clinton pardon Susan McDougal? Just asking.

  13. Marc Rich? Need I say more?
    EVERY President in recent years has done exactly this.

    1. All two of them?

    2. Rich wasn’t accused of crimes associated with is pardoner getting elected, was he?

      These things are not the same.

    3. Yes, Lawman, you do need to say more.

      The Marc Rich pardon was unseemly, but wasn’t and had no appearance of being a pardon in exchange for lying for the benefit of the President giving the pardon. There are other pardons for donors by Trump that are equally unseemly, so you have a counterpoint to those. But what about pardoning people convicted of lying on your behalf. People who lobbied in public for a pardon while crowing that they didn’t “turn” on you?

      Or the pardon by Trump of convicted murderers who have served less than one year per innocent life they took? I know of no equivalence to that, by any former President. At all.

      You need to say a lot more than the unseemly pardon of financial crimes guy Marc Rich (and it was gross and worthy of condemnation).

      Pardoning murderers? Pardoning people who lied for you, because they lied for you?

      1. On the flip side, there’s no allegation that the prosecution of Rich was just lawfare against Clinton. Which is the claim in the case of many of Trump’s associates: That they were only prosecuted to get at Trump, and if not for their association with him would have been left alone.

        1. Empty claims when people were convicted by juries of crimes or stood up and swore and oath that they committed crimes, and they are people with access to power and money….cry me a river.

          They were guilty. They committed crimes. Hypotheticals about whether they would have been prosecuted are meaningless. That’s just cover to always pardon anyone with the right letter (R or D, as the case may be) behind their name. You know enough about human nature to know that.

          Pardoning your cronies is gross.

    4. Yes. Please say more.

      So Clinton granted a dubious pardon? How does that have the slightest damn thing to do with Trump’s pardons?

      We all knew that Trumpists were going to scream “Marc Rich” at the top of their lungs. The only surprise is it took so long. It’s all they’ve got.

  14. Amazing to see such vitriolic responses to political acts that have zero effect on the country. This place is so far removed from having any integrity, on both sides of the aisle, that discussions of good and bad are irrelevant. DC, Wall Street, Banana Republic. It really doesn’t matter anymore.

    1. Pardoning corrupt politicians because they are on your side does have an effect on the country.

      Pardoning war criminals convicted of murdering 14 innocent people does have an effect on the country.

      Pardoning cronies who lied for you during an investigation into your possible misconduct does have an effect on the country.

      These all trash norms, set precedents, and/or otherwise incentivize exactly the type of behavior that Trump’s supporters pretended to want him to end by “draining the swamp”. (I say pretended, because the proof is in the pudding and they have no problem with corruption so long as it involves “owning the libs” or advancing their team’s hold on power.) Trump has made the swamp much worse. That does have serious consequences for the country and, so, the world.

    2. This place is so far removed from having any integrity, on both sides of the aisle, that discussions of good and bad are irrelevant

      Apparently not everyone agrees.

      But nice nihilism.

  15. An important aspect of the pardon power would seem to be to allow the President to protect associates from bullshit criminal investigations designed to smear the President.

    Regardless of whether or not that is what happened in this case.

    1. You one of those who thinks Trump should declare martial law because the election was stolen from him by literally everyone else in the government? Get a grip.

      Your deep conspiratorial worldview does not provide a defense for Trump pardoning people who went to jail for lying and obstructing investigations of Trump himself.

      FFS read something other than whatever brain rotting partisan fiction you’re marinating in.

      This is indefensible. Both the pardons and this post.

  16. Whether or not Trump can pardon himself is immaterial. He will pardon his family, friends, and other gangsters and then resign. Then President Pence will pardon him, thereby endearing himself to the 70 million Trump cultists. Thank God for state prosecutors, who will make sure that no one — not even the president — can escape justice.

  17. I thought we were all for more pardons, even if some are dubious.
    If 10% are good, and 90% shady, would that mean that the pardon power is wrong? I think not! Our justice system is supposed to err on the side of the accused, and this awesome power of pardoning is another check on the government’s terrible but necessary power to convict. Even if 1% of the pardons are righteous, and 99% are shady, I would applaud. And think Trump’s pardons meet my minimal criteria. As I often disclose, I do have a bad case of TDS, but that doesn’t blind me in this matter. The media really are being cray cray bitching about all these pardons. Go Snowden!

    1. Your logic is absolutely awful.

      It is not better that 10 guilty men go free only if they are politically connected.

      Basically, your argument is no one should be in jail, if all pardons are good.

      Alternatively, if people should be in prison (not everyone should be pardoned), surely you can see that granting get out of jail cards to political cronies is not a sound way to go about things. But you’re just trolling.

      I thought we were all for more pardons

      You don’t even understand the conversation.

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