Will Pence Pardon Citizen Trump?
It was not surprising seeing Kanye West’s wife, Kim Kardashian, walking up the driveway to the White House (5-29-2018). Under the misleading premise of a discussion on prison reform, the reality TV star was there to request a pardon of her great grandmother, who is serving a life sentence for a drug conviction. We won’t jump down that rabbit hole here, but it seems that those who backed Trump are attempting to cash in on those relationships. Isn’t this the kind of swamp stuff that Trump said he was going to drain and eliminate? Another lie, I guess.
The very next day, we got the news that Trump has awarded his fifth pardon since taking office. This time he announced it on Twitter, “Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!” And if you don’t know who this is, it was someone who admitted to, and was convicted of, campaign fund violations. D’Souza is another right-winged radical conspiracy theory guy who once accused President Barack Obama of adopting “the cause of anti-colonialism” from his Kenyan father. He also once argued that Adolf Hitler was not “anti-gay.”
Although not legally necessary, Trump’s pardon of D’Souza did not go through the department’s Office of Pardon Attorney. No one is overseeing this pardoning activity that Trump is normalizing and will most likely use to demonstrate to anyone who sides with him not to fear breaking the law or the justice department.
How did D’Souza break the law? He was charged with making $20,000 in illegal campaign contributions to the New York Senate campaign of Wendy Long and for false statements made to the Federal Election Commission. In May 2014, D’Souza pleaded guilty to one felony count of making illegal contributions in the names of others. He was sentenced to five years’ probation, remanded to a “community confinement center” and made to pay a $30,000 fine. By the way, this is the same kind of crime that Michael Cohen could be charged with because of the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels. In a sense, it’s an in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign in order to shield the candidate from bad publicity.
In February 2018, Mr. D’Souza posted a series of tweets that mocked the survivors of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. This Indian-American has been flinging excrement into the air in his books and films for years. Some of his films truly show Trump’s heart as it relates to pardons. They are also anti-Obama, anti-Clinton, and the like.
An objective observer might say that the President of the United States is giving the whole judicial process the middle finger and circumventing the notion of justice in America. But, he can do it. And there have been presidents in the past who probably have misused this responsibility and power as well.
The winner in this arena is president Harry S. Truman, who during his eight years in office signed clemency decrees 2,044 times, including 1,913 pardons, 118 commutations and 13 remissions. And we all remember that Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon, effectively ending his political career.
Article II of the Constitution clearly says that the President of the United States shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
The good news here is the President cannot pardon anyone in the government who has been impeached, and that would include himself. That activity would put him above the law, and we know that no man or woman is above the law in America. If the President does something on the level of major crimes or misdemeanors while he is in office, the only way to deal with him personally is impeachment.
On May 2, 2018, the Washington Post commented on the pardon of Joe Arpaio and said it best, “Trump’s political allies are now above the law. Those who abuse their law enforcement powers — particularly against ethnic minorities — will be rewarded. But Trump’s move was also widely seen by legal experts as a not-so-subtle hint to potential witnesses in the ongoing criminal investigations into the president and his campaign: If you stay loyal, there might be a pardon waiting for you, too.”
And that brings us to a likely scenario. A Special Counsel has been working on a case for more than a year and has delivered dozens of indictments and guilty pleas. It’s reasonable to believe there is some bad weather coming for the Donald J. Trump presidency. And if the Democrats gain seats in both the House and Senate in the Fall 2018 midterm election, there could be a vote for impeachment and trial in the Senate. Although that is highly unlikely.
Let’s play out this fantasy. After Trump creates a civil war in America, will the newly minted President Pence pardon Trump? Yes, and that pardon will come after our Great Orange Leader pardons all the people who, in his eyes, have been unfairly convicted of their crimes. Rather than respecting the rule of law and the votes of juries, Trump will circumvent the system and create law by signature.
The founding fathers wrote the notion of pardon into the Constitution so that injustices of a corrupt Judiciary Branch could be halted by the Executive Branch. Even if we attempted to add an amendment to take this power away, we would unwittingly give too much power to the Judiciary. Courts are used as a tool in tyrannical regimes to send away forever people they don’t like.
We have a President who is doing all the things he accused other Presidents and political opponents of. Trump is a politician with no redeeming value. All he has done is advance racism, Alt-Right dogma, nationalistic isolationism, trade wars and his rich-people-first agenda. But there are elections coming and votes matter.
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