President Donald Trump has announced a series of pardons, and the media is having a tough time accepting his choices. Worse, the legacy lackeys seem to be suffering from short-term memory loss as they ignore the controversial pardons that Barack Obama issued during his time in office. What’s good for the Christmas goose is apparently not good for the Trump-era gander.
Trump has handed out 15 pardons and a further five commutations. Some high-profile figures to benefit include former campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, as well as three former GOP members of Congress: Chris Collins, Duncan Hunter, and Steve Stockman, all three of whom were found guilty of crimes related to misuse of funds or position. Other, lesser-mentioned recipients include Crystal Munoz and Tynice Nichole Hall, who were convicted of drug-related offenses.
Papadopoulos was caught up in an FBI sting operation that agents had hoped would provide leverage in the Russiagate hoax. Much like the drawn-out Michael Flynn case, this was a politically charged prosecution whose main purpose was leverage.
Pearl Clutching Peak
During the Obama reign, the former president issued a series of pardons that, if present-day standards were applied, would have had the entire Fourth Estate calling for the smelling salts. Drug manufacturers and dealers (heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine), armed robbers, and animal abusers were all fair game for clemency. Why then are Trump’s picks so shocking?
The fact is, they are not … but that would make poor headlines for Washington activists.
Not to be outdone, Democrat politicians were quick to air their disgust at this slate of pardons.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) released a statement, saying:
“If you lie to cover up for the President, you get a pardon … If you are a corrupt politician who endorsed Trump, you get a pardon. If you murder civilians while at war, you get a pardon.”
Mr. Schiff calling someone out for lying stretches the incredulity muscles somewhat. Examples of his imaginative fecundity include making up quotes regarding President Trump’s phone call with Ukraine despite having the transcript in hand and claiming to have seen “more than circumstantial” evidence of Trump’s wrongdoing. To paraphrase the California representative, “If you lie, you get to be the House Intelligence Chair for the Democrat Party.”
Will President Trump’s full swath of pardons please all Americans? Certainly not. The four Blackwater contractors who were convicted of killing Iraqi civilians in 2007 will raise eyebrows. With around 14,000 people currently seeking clemency, there will undoubtedly be more decisions that don’t meet with public approval. But this is part and parcel of presidential power.
The Congressional Research Service writes that a president can offer a pardon “to any individual he deems fit, irrespective of whether an application has been filed with the Office of the Pardon Attorney.” Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist Paper No. 74 that the clemency power grants “easy access to exceptions in favor of unfortunate guilt,” without which “justice would wear a countenance too sanguinary and cruel.”
Like much else in the realm of politics, whether an action is deemed good or noble falls along partisan lines. Presidents have made questionable calls in the past, and they will make them in the future, but accepting this as part of the American system of governance may appear a step too far for media pundits with personal axes to grind.
Read more from Mark Angelides.