I said many times that “this tops it all” in relation to Donald Trump, only to find one outrageous act after another promptly exceeded by the next But this one really does take the cake. (Actually they all did)
Yesterday, December 23, 2020 Donald Trump pardoned a bunch of people. That is not unusual as American presidents have done that repeatedly, though I have often thought only a crazy political system would give that much authority to one man.
As political commentator John Avalon said on CNN,
“If you look back at the Mueller investigation, the 4 main players who refused to talk and lied to prosecutors were Manafort, Flynn, Papadopoulos, and Stone. They’ve all now been pardoned. And the 2 significant defendants who did testify they’ve not been pardoned.”
In case you have forgotten who this “rogues gallery of convicted criminals” are, as CNN called them, Manafort was Trump’s former campaign manager, Flynn was his National Security advisor and promoter of Qanon conspiracies, Stone was Trump’s long time crony and special political advisor and Papadopoulos was a former Trump campaign aide.
In other words the Trump cronies who were loyal to Trump are out of jail, thanks to Trump and those who were loyal to the country remain in jail. One of the lead prosecutors in the Mueller investigation, Andrew Weissmann said this: “The pardons from this president are what you would expect if you gave the pardon power to a mob boss.” Weissmann knows what he is talking about. Before the Mueller investigation he prosecuted cases involving members of the Genovese, Colombo, and Gambino crime families in New York. That is what the US has elected as a president—a Crime Boss.
The Mueller report had said how Trump would signal to the 4 pardoned men while they were being investigated that they could look for a pardon. And yesterday Trump delivered with spectacular results.
Former FBI Deputy Director Any McCabe, also severely criticized the pardons as sending a message that people who did not cooperate with investigators can get rewarded while those who did can suck socks. McCabe called the move by Trump a ‘culmination’ of acts of ‘obstruction of justice.’
As McCabe said on CNN, those who play ball with Trump will be lucky because ‘He will pay you off with a pardon and give you a get out of jail free card. The Mueller report explored whether Trump and allies dangled a pardon to Manafort to discourage him from cooperating with prosecutors.
“ ‘What was seen and referred to in the Mueller report has now been completed. Pardons were dangled. And now they’ve delivered in return for protection for the president. I don’t even know how to describe it, it’s so obviously corrupt,’ he said.”
Laura Coates another former prosecutor with the Department of Justice (‘DOJ”) described it this way;
“On the eve of the eve of Christmas, the ghosts of criminals past have slates wiped clean with presidential pardons, but the smell you smell wafting is not holiday cheer and evergreen boughs, it’s the stench of the swamp and rotten to the core.”
The words “rotten to the core” actually came from Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska. Laura Coates the guest host on the show also said this,
“I am a lawyer who has studied the constitution and I know the president is given the authority to pardon and there are absolutely times when it should be used to right a wrong. But not for executing revenge or rewarding your cronies. That’s rotten to the core.”
Not satisfied with pleasing only those who protected him during the Mueller investigation, Trump gave an early Christmas gift to his son-in-law Jared Kushners by pardoning his father Charles Kushner for tax evasion and retaliation against a federal witness, and lying to the election commission.
John Avalon was right when he said, “This president who will be considered the most corrupt in American history.” Avalon also reminded us that of the 65 people Trump has pardoned so far, 60 have a personal connection to Trump. He also pointed out that the phrase “quid pro quo,” that played such a prominent role in the impeachment trial of Trump in the Senate was again very appropriate here. Corruption is simple in criminal cases involving politicians. It means a politician is prohibited from using his or her office for personal game. This is an abuse of power. Exactly what Trump was charged with in the Senate hearing. And exactly what he did here. The use of the pardon power for personal game, such as keeping unflattering witnesses quiet is a simple quid pro quo. This completes the Mueller report where Trump tried from the beginning to obstruct the course of justice.
Who will have faith in American justice after this? Who will think it is rotten to the core? What do the millions of Trump supporters think about him now?