Tag Archives: presidential pardon

A pardon for Manafort? Consider the consequence

There’s a good bit of speculation afoot about why Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s campaign chairman who pleaded guilty to felony charges and then agreed cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller, would lie repeatedly to Mueller’s team.

Mueller is looking into whether Trump’s campaign “colluded” with Russians who attacked our election system in 2016. Manafort was thought to have a lot of answers to Mueller’s many questions. Then he lied, according to Mueller. Manafort blew the plea deal apart.

But . . . why? Some analysts suggest Manafort might be angling for a presidential pardon.

I have two words for them: Gerald Ford.

A presidential pardon is likely to explode like a volcano over the political landscape. Hey, come to think of it, if such an event results in Trump’s ouster, then I am all for it!

Back to President Ford. The president took office in August 1974 after President Richard Nixon resigned in the wake of the Watergate scandal. Barely a month in office, the new president issued a blanket pardon for any offenses his predecessor might have committed. He freed President Nixon from any prosecution.

Ford was vilified at the time for the pardon. He ran for election in 1976 and lost that year narrowly to Jimmy Carter. The pardon was seen at the time as a major contributor to the president’s defeat.

I was among those who criticized Ford at the time. Since then my views have changed about President Ford and the pardon. But the damage was done in real time.

If the current president thinks he is going to cover his backside from any incriminating circumstance by pardoning Paul Manafort, he is likely instead to purchase a whole basket full of political crises.

I am now wondering whether the president has any idea of what might transpire if he is foolish enough to take such an action.

Ali might get pardon? Eh? For what?

Donald J. “Ignoramus in Chief” Trump Sr. reportedly is considering a pardon for, get a load of this, the late Muhammad Ali.

Please, Mr. President, do some homework — for once, will ya?

The Greatest does not need a pardon. Do you understand?

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 1971 that the boxing authorities that stripped Ali of his heavyweight champion title violated his constitutional rights that (a) guaranteed his freedom of religion, (b) allowed him to protest peaceably the federal government and (c) allowed him freedom of speech.

You see, Ali protested the Vietnam War by refusing in 1967 to accept induction into the U.S. Army; he cited his Muslim faith as the basis for his refusal to be drafted. The boxing authorities then decided to deny him the right to earn a living by stripping him of his ability to box, to defend his heavyweight title. He was cast out of boxing for more than three years.

The nation’s highest court rectified that injustice by overturning his conviction on draft evasion. What’s more, President Jimmy Carter issued a pardon for all Vietnam War draft dodgers — and that included Muhammad Ali.

Earth to Trump: The Greatest of All Time does not need a presidential pardon!

Now, get ready for that summit with Kim Jong Un.

Self-pardoning: prescription for disaster

Why in the name of political hyperbole did Donald J. Trump broach the subject of “self-pardoning”?

He did. The president has declared that he has the authority to pardon himself, but then said immediately afterward that there’s no reason to do so. Why? He’s done “nothing wrong,” he said.

OK, then. I get that, Mr. President.

But I ask again: Why in the hell did he say such a thing in the first place?

Trump is no lawyer. He’s got a team of legal eagles supposedly helping him wade through the morass that keeps slowing him down. I’m wondering if the legal team is able to shut this guy up, to persuade him to stop yapping gratuitously on matters of which he has no understanding.

The president has triggered yet another national discussion about his potential criminality. Why? For what purpose? I don’t understand where this discussion is going and whether Trump is trying to instigate a potential constitutional crisis.

The talk around the nation now includes whether the president actually believe he is “above the law.” Oh, man. He isn’t. He ought to know that. His lawyers damn sure ought to know it.

This idiocy about self-pardoning has to presume he has done something wrong.

You know, presidents have been known to take subordinates to the “woodshed,” as President Reagan famously did with then-budget director David Stockman back in the early 1980s. I don’t expect it to happen, but is there anyone close to the current presidential clown who’s able to take the boss out back to slap some sense into his coiffed skull?

Why the talk about POTUS’s self-pardon?

This discussion about whether Donald Trump can pardon himself has my head spinning.

I mean, hasn’t the president declared that he did nothing wrong? That there is “no collusion” with Russians who meddled in our 2016 presidential election? That his business dealings are on the up and up? That there’s no obstruction of justice? No crimes committed?

Oh, wait!

The president’s kicked into overdrive his effort to discredit, disparage and dismiss the special counsel’s investigation into all of these questions. Robert Mueller is no hatchet man. He’s a longstanding Republican, a former FBI director, a meticulous lawyer. He’s a pro. He’s a former Marine who saw combat during the Vietnam War. His character is — if you’ll excuse the reference here — unimpeachable.

Back to my point.

This chatter about whether the president can pardon himself only heightens the possibility that Trump is indeed stupid enough to even raise the issue. He has done that and has opened up an entirely hideous line of discussion.

A pardon presumes wrongdoing. If the president is clean, why are we even having this discussion?

Or is he … actually clean?

Future POTUS asked about hookers? Seriously?

Is this what we have produced? Rumors about a future president of the United States asking about Russian prostitutes and disputes over whether someone threatened a porn star if she blabbed about her tryst with the future president?

Holy cow, dudes! What is going on here?

I do not know how to react to any of this. Nor do I know how precisely to process. I am left to just vent on this blog about the lowlife quality of the discussion revolving a man who would aspire to become head of state of the world’s most indispensable nation.

I’ve been watching presidential politics for some time. Sure, we had rumors about infidelity regarding former presidents; long after one of them was dead we learned that, yes, he did cheat on his wife while living in the White House.

This stuff about the current president, though, goes beyond all of that. Donald J. Trump is being swallowed whole — quite possibly — by reports that his personal lawyer may “flip” and turn against him. Trump might fire the special counsel that is looking into all of this and more; or he might fire the deputy U.S. attorney general who appointed the special counsel; or he might fire both of them.

Then we’re hearing about possible presidential pardons.

What is the common denominator? Sex, man! Sex with a porn queen and with a former Playboy Bunny/centerfold model! And maybe sex with Russian hookers who Russian strongman Vladimir Putin describes as the “most beautiful in the world”?

I feel like throwing up.

Trump facing serious trouble

This probe into the “Russia thing” has taken a stern turn for the worse … if you’re the president of the United States of America.

Robert Mueller, the meticulous special counsel, has indicted two key Donald J. Trump presidential campaign aides on money laundering charges. The indictment against former campaign chairman Paul Manafort includes a charge of conspiracy against the United States — which makes me say “whoa!”

Now that Mueller has struck, the talk has surfaced yet again about what the president might do. The Hill reports that GOP senators are resisting calls from Democrats to protect Mueller from a possible firing by the president.

Senate grapples over indictments

Will he pardon Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates? Will he pardon George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russia connection?

Ah, but will he actually fire Mueller?

I keep circling back to this notion that if the president is as innocent of colluding with Russian hackers as he insists he is, why would he do anything?

However, I am left to say “holy crap-ola!” If the president is going to do anything that smacks of obstruction — such as, oh, firing FBI director James Comey over that “Russia thing” — then he exposes himself to the full wrath of Congress.

You see, the president has developed universal loathing among Senate and House Democrats. His Republican alliance in both legislative chambers is showing serious cracks, too.

I am left, therefore — as an avid anti-Trumpster — with terribly mixed feelings about what I think the president should do. Does he take the foolish course and do something he will regret? Or does he just shut the hell up — for once in his adult life — and let the process run its course?

OK, here’s my preference.

Keep your big trap shut, Mr. President, and just let the special counsel — who was appointed by the Justice Department because you followed the voice of foolishness with the Comey firing — do what he’s been charged to do.

‘Law and order’ boast gets doused by pardon

Donald Trump promised to be “the law-and-order president,” which harkened back to the call issued in the late 1960s by Richard Nixon’s campaign for the presidency.

The way I see it, though, Trump’s pardon of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio douses the president’s law-and-order pledge bigly.

Arpaio once served as sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz. He made a big name for himself by his tough policies on illegal immigration. He would racially profile individuals he assumed were entering the country illegally; he would detain them, often in brutal conditions.

A federal judge ordered Arpaio to cease that round-up policy. He refused. The judge put him on trial. The sheriff was convicted. Oh, and then he lost his re-election bid along the way.

How does this comport with the president’s pledge to be the law-and-order guy? It doesn’t.

The president stuck his thumb in the eye of the federal judicial system. He, in effect, said the rule of law doesn’t apply. The pardon clearly is within the president’s realm of power. Some arguing that the pardon might be illegal; I won’t go there.

A pardon’s legality doesn’t necessarily make it right. In this case, it pulls precisely against the pledge the president made to emphasize law and order.

By flouting the rule of law, therefore, the president has declared war as well on any semblance of order.

Stop the excuses for this hideous pardon, already!

I wish my friends on the right would stop diverting attention from Donald Trump’s hideous pardon of “Sheriff Joe” Arpaio.

The former Maricopa County (Ariz.) sheriff had been convicted of flouting a federal judge’s order. It was contempt of court charge. The judge ordered Arpaio to cease rounding up individuals he suspected of being illegal immigrants and then subjecting them to brutal conditions while under detention.

Arpaio thumbed his nose at the judge. He disrespected the rule of law. He said the judge’s order didn’t matter. He’d keep doing what he was ordered to cease doing.

He got convicted. He was awaiting a sentence.

Then the president intervened. He pardoned “Sheriff Joe,” reportedly without clearing it with Justice Department policies. He acted, yet again, on his own — which of course is his right; the Constitution gives the president the power to issue full and unconditional pardons.

The diversion occurs from those on the right who keep looking backward at the pardons issued by he likes of, oh, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. I will concede that those presidents issued controversial pardons, too. They got hammered pretty damn hard for them as well. I just choose not to revisit those actions, preferring instead to focus on the here and now.

Trump’s pardon of Arpaio gives aid and comfort to those on the right and the far right who think it’s OK for law enforcement officials to rough up anyone they think is entering this country illegally.

The pardon further divides an already deeply divided nation.

The president said Arpaio was “convicted for doing his job.” That is utterly ridiculous on its face.

He was convicted because he has demonstrated zero acceptance of the rule of law. The president of the United States has just endorsed that dangerous concept.

That’s why this pardon matters.

Trump ratchets up his disrespect for federal judiciary

Just when you thought Donald Trump couldn’t disrespect a branch of government with any more emphasis … he does exactly that very thing.

The president today has pardoned former Maricopa County (Ariz.) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of disobeying a direct order from a federal judge.

The judge had ordered Arpaio to stop rounding up illegal immigrants en masse, citing potential civil rights violations. Arpaio then decided he would ignore the judge’s lawful order.

Arpaio went on trial and he was convicted.

The president today intervened, issuing a presidential pardon — which is the president’s constitutional right. The pardon is irrevocable.

It’s also a gigantic mistake.

Arpaio, who was defeated for re-election in 2016, is an enormously polarizing figure. He’s long been seen by those on the right and the far right as a champion for their cause against illegal immigration. He has acted roughly and brusquely with those he has caught trying to sneak into the country. He has made no apology for the way he has handled that part of his job.

So he stuck it in the eye of the federal judiciary by refusing to abide by a court order. No worries, according to Trump — who has himself disrespected federal judges who have ruled against him on assorted judicial matters.

Trump vowed to be a “law and order president.” What the president has done with this pardon, though, is reaffirm his belief that judges’ orders don’t matter.

If I might borrow a quote from one of the president’s many tweets.

Sad.

Don’t pardon ‘Sheriff Joe,’ Mr. President

Donald John Trump Sr. offered a titillating morsel for those among his political base to chew on.

He spoke Tuesday at a campaign rally in Phoenix and said former Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio is “going to be just fine.” The implication is that Trump might issue a presidential pardon for “Sheriff Joe.” 

Arpaio has been convicted of ignoring a court order that demanded he stop conducting an “immigration roundup” that sought to locate illegal immigrants sneaking into the United States.

I hope the president forgoes a pardon for Arpaio. A friend of mine who happens to be a former prosecutor in Amarillo said this regarding a potential pardon for the fiery former sheriff:

“A pardon for a criminal conviction is supposed to take into account some equitable or humanitarian reason to remove the conviction. A pardon for someone who knowingly violated a federal court order and is being held in contempt is in my view worse. It sends a message that the judiciary is not to be honored. A dangerous precedent, and a slap in the face to the alleged sheriff’s victims.”

Amen to that.

Then again, the president has demonstrated already a penchant for dishonoring the judiciary … such as when he questioned whether a federal judge could adjudicate a case involving Trump University “because he’s a Mexican”; the judge, by the way, was born in Indiana to Mexican-American parents. Or when he referred to a “so-called judge” who struck down Trump’s ban on Muslims entering the United States.

Trump said Arpaio was convicted of “doing his job.” The crowd in Phoenix roared.

Actually, Mr. President, “Sheriff Joe” was convicted of ignoring what a judge told him to do. We are, after all, a nation of laws.

Isn’t that right?