An enduring lesson from 2020 is that politicos only seem to like the Constitution when it benefits their own side. Such is the case with yesterday’s presidential pardons that have ignited the usual uproar and indignation of Democrats, who now say it’s time for this power to be shelved. Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and Jared Kushner’s father, Charles, all received a late-night surprise in their Christmas stockings with pardons from President Trump. Will these calls for the abolition of presidential pardons continue beyond the Trump presidency?
Burn It All Down!
Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy led the Democrat charge, writing, “Once one party allows the pardon power to become a tool of criminal enterprise, its danger to democracy outweighs its utility as an instrument of justice. It’s time to remove the pardon power from the Constitution.”
The knee-jerk response was echoed by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), who tweeted:
“Pardons for Paul Manafort and Roger Stone serve neither justice nor mercy. President Trump is handing out rewards to his co-conspirators and shielding his own conduct from scrutiny.”
And this idea that the president is shielding himself from future prosecution is one that the activist media seem happy to echo, claiming that the slew of pardons is “chipping away” at the work of the Mueller investigation.
When House Democrats impeached President Trump, they did so over a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. They did not act to impeach over anything brought to light in the three-year Mueller probe into the scandalous Russiagate hoax. Why?
If the left and the media jointly believe the president will face criminal charges (and therefore needs to shore up support via pardons) for Russia’s actions, then surely one of the broadest and most partisan investigations in American history would have uncovered something?
The whole proposition that Trump is now acting to defend against future charges is more than just flawed thinking; it is suspect.
A Constitution, If You Can Keep It
Too often, we see one-step thinking from elected lawmakers. They happily support using a law or a power until the other side uses it equivalently and then deem it dangerous and doomed. In idealized theory, this means they are trying to craft the United States Constitution into something that better serves the modern world; in reality, it shows that they wish to exercise power unchecked and at whim.
In 2015, President Barack Obama wrote:
“The power to grant pardons and clemency is one of the most profound authorities granted to the President of the United States. It embodies the basic belief in our democracy that people deserve a second chance after having made a mistake in their lives that led to a conviction under our laws.”
Have we strayed so far from this basic belief? Perhaps it is a sign of the times that there are no more second chances … at least not for those who have committed the ultimate crime of supporting the president.
The “unity” that was so often promised on the campaign trail was a lie. It was electioneering by would-be tyrants who believe power should only be wielded by themselves and deplore its use by any others. President Trump’s pardons may be self-serving; they may be seen as rewards, but they are within his gift, and it would make the Constitution weaker to strip them for headlines and momentary gain.
Read more from Mark Angelides.