“Pardonpalooza has begun,” more than one internet wag declared this afternoon as Donald Trump’s latest batch of pardons became public knowledge.
With only 29 days left to exercise his most unquestioned and unlimited presidential power, the outgoing president predicably offered clemency to figures caught up in the Mueller investigation of Russian interference in his own election, to disgraced Republican politicians, and to convicted war criminals
On the list:
- George Papadopoulos, the man Trump denigrated a mere “coffee boy,” who served prison time for lying to federal officials in connection with the Russia investigation.
- Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who pleaded guilty to the same charge as part of the special counsel’s inquiry.
- Duncan Hunter, the former California Republican congressman, who was set to begin serving 11 months in prison next month after being convicted of embezzling and improperly using campaign funds for personal expenses.
- Chris Collins, a former New York GOP congressman, who is currently serving a 26-month sentence for securities fraud conspiracy and lying to the FBI.
- Steve Stockman, a convicted felon serving a 10-year sentence for fraud and money laundering who was previously the U.S. congressional representative for Texas’s 9th congressional district.
In addition to corrupt Republican politicians and his former colleagues, Trump also gave clean legal bills of health to four private militia contractors who had worked for Blackwater, the private security firm run by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ brother Eric Prince, and who had been convicted at great federal government expense of purposefully and indiscriminately murdering Iraqi civilians during the Iraq war, an act most people would consider among the most heinous of war crimes.
Twitter was flooded with angry responses from people outraged that such obviously guilty criminals would be granted pardons by someone who should be behind bars himself (and hopefully will be shortly).
However, rather than include a large collection of those legitimately livid comments about the lack of deservedness of each of the pardonees and a full regurgitation of their criminal histories, we will defer to the fact that no matter what anyone says, there is nothing that can be done to reverse this or any other president’s constitutional discretion to pardon anyone he may well want to, no matter how corrupt.
The only limitations on this most uncircumscribed of presidential powers are that the pardons are only valid for federal offenses and that it is still not completely certain whether Trump can legally pardon himself.
With a few weeks left in power, these are not likely to be the last of the pardons that the lame-duck president grants.
With Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith having calculated that 88 percent of Trump’s pardons to date either helped someone with personal ties to the president or were in service to his political goals, it seems likely that Trump will soon issue pardons to his family members and his legal team, including Rudy Giuliani whose investigation by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York has been reportedly heating up in. recent weeks.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.