Sunday, July 12, 2020

Presidential Commutation Powers

As you know, President Trump commuted the sentence of one Roger Stone on Friday evening. As of now, Trump has commuted or pardoned exactly 10 people. During his eight years in office, Barack Obama commuted or pardoned more than 1700 convicted felons. Naturally, in our warped universe people are up in arms about Trump.

First up, sanctimonious twerp Mitt Romney, who tweeted this:

Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president….

Rhetorical hyperbole run wild, by someone who does not know very much about American history.

Matt Margolis reminds us of some the commutations and pardons granted by Barack Obama:

Just before leaving office in 2017, Barack Obama commuted the sentence of Bradley Manning (you may also know him as Chelsea), who leaked hundreds of thousands of sensitive government documents to WikiLeaks. A traitor in every sense, in 2013 Manning was convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison. But, Bradley Manning became a hero of the political left for declaring himself to be transgender, and Obama made his controversial commutation literally just days before leaving office. Manning maintains hero status amongst the left today.

Obama also commuted the sentence of convicted terrorist Oscar Lopez Rivera, the leader of the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña (FALN), a Puerto Rican terrorist group. FALN was responsible for 130 attacks in the United States, and at least six deaths. An unrepentant Lopez-Rivera was serving a 70-year sentence when Obama set him free. The Congressional Black Caucus had repeatedly lobbied for Lopez’s release during the Obama years, and the commutation was met with praise from Democrats like Bill de Blasio, Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, Bernie Sanders, and others.

Obama also granted clemency to hundreds of drug offenders he claimed were non-violent offenders who deserved a second chance, because of racism or something. It later came out that many of the people he released were actually violent offenders guilty of gun crimes. Obama granted more acts of clemency than any president since Truman, though he saved much of that executive use of power for the latter months and days of his presidency.

Terrorists and traitors, not a problem. Drug dealers, not a problem Roger Stone, big problem. It tells you something about the mini-mind of Mitt Romney.

And then there is Jeffrey Toobin. Not one to shy away from rhetorical extremes, Toobin says this:

This is simply not done by American presidents. They do not pardon or commute sentences of people who are close to them or about to go to prison. It just does not happen until this president.

Simply not done-- since when did Toobin come down for propriety. His own words are manifestly extreme and, by the by, are also wrong. Extremist rhetoric smacks of impropriety.

Law professor Jonathan Turley reminds Toobin and the rest of us:

Thomas Jefferson pardoned Erick Bollman for violations of the Alien and Sedition Act in the hope that he would testify against rival Aaron Burr for treason. Andrew Jackson stopped the execution of George Wilson in favor of a prison sentence, despite the long record Wilson had as a train robber, after powerful friends intervened with Jackson. Wilson surprised everyone by opting to be hanged anyway. However, Wilson could not hold a candle to Ignazio Lupo, one of the most lethal mob hitmen who was needed back in New York during a mafia war. With the bootlegging business hanging in the balance, Warren Harding, who along with his attorney general, Harry Daugherty, was repeatedly accused of selling pardons, decided to pardon Lupo on the condition that he be a “law abiding” free citizen.

Franklin Roosevelt also pardoned political allies, including Conrad Mann, who was a close associate of Kansas City political boss Tom Pendergast. Pendergast made a fortune off illegal alcohol, gambling, and graft, and helped send Harry Truman into office. Truman also misused this power, including pardoning the extremely corrupt George Caldwell, who was a state official who skimmed massive amounts of money off government projects, like a building fund for Louisiana State University.

Richard Nixon was both giver and receiver of controversial pardons. He pardoned Jimmy Hoffa after the Teamsters Union leader had pledged to support his reelection bid. Nixon himself was later pardoned by Gerald Ford, an act many of us view as a mistake. To his credit, Ronald Reagan declined to pardon the Iran Contra affair figures, but his vice president, George Bush, did so after becoming president. Despite his own alleged involvement in that scandal, Bush still pardoned those other Iran Contra figures, such as Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger.

Bill Clinton committed some of the worst abuses of this power, including pardons for his brother Roger Clinton and his friend and business partner Susan McDougal. He also pardoned the fugitive financier Marc Rich, who evaded justice by fleeing abroad. Entirely unrepentant, Rich was a major Democratic donor, and Clinton had wiped away his convictions for fraud, tax evasion, racketeering, and illegal dealings with Iran.

And then, Turley reminds us that the Stone case was tried by hyper-partisan Obama judge. And that the jury foreperson was strongly biased against Stone.

Unlike many of these cases, there were legitimate questions raised about the Stone case. The biggest issue was that the foreperson of the trial jury was also actually a Democratic activist and an outspoken critic of Trump and his associates who even wrote publicly about the Stone case. Despite multiple opportunities to do so, she never disclosed her prior statements and actions that would have demonstrated such bias. Judge Amy Berman Jackson shrugged off all that, however, and refused to grant Stone a new trial, denying him the most basic protection in our system.

So, Stone was railroaded by partisan judges. It merely shows you that there are two standards of justice in America, one for Trump supporters, one for Democrats. A leftist judge refuses to dismiss the case against Gen. Michael Flynn, and the people who destroyed Flynn’s life are still happily walking the street.


trigger warning said...

Chadley Manning. Haven't heard that name in a long time. Guess his 15 minutes is long over, considering that he got a "heroic" 6% of the vote in the 2018 MD Democratic primary for the US Senate.

Speaking of Chadley, I read today that another "transgender" wants her tits back:

"Penny was just 11 years old when she decided that people online were right — that she was 'transgender.' At 13, she was prescribed hormone blockers, and by 15, she’d had a double mastectomy. Now, at 16, she’s raising money on gofundme for a breast reconstruction."

Poor kid. Somebody oughta get whacked with a crowbar.

Sam L. said...

For me, Democrats = Sleaze.

Giordano Bruno said...

There is no further rule of law in the United States. People who think there is are just too weak or have too little imagination to understand this. A full coup was attempted on a duly elected president, and there have been no consequences except to the men and women who defended the elected president. And it continues, in the open.

It’s now about who can marshall power to protect your allies and punish your enemies. If you cannot demonstrate that power, you will be abandoned. Winner takes everything.

The media is the enemy of civilization