Donald Trump has a new favorite thing to discuss, to the point of obsession, (a strong word used by staffers as reported in Newsweek) and of course it has all the attributes he generally favors. It is powerful, non-negotiable, and all about him, the ability to pardon people. Apparently it is like Trump just discovered the existence of the most dictatorial power set out in Article II and has honed in on the elegant simplicity; He decides, he acts, it is unquestioned, and over. Everyone bitching about it can go to hell. Of course he’s obsessed with it, amazing it took this long.
Obviously, I have written extensively on the devastation unleashed Monday when Trump unilaterally declared he could pardon himself. But, this obsession goes beyond “getting himself off” (literally), and flow to those one would expect Trump to care about. Whereas Obama ordered up lists of thousands of poor people sitting in prison on life sentences for small drug offenses, Trump has found time in the presidential schedule to hear out one Kim Kardashian beg for a pardon for Alice Marie Johnson (who absolutely DOES deserve a pardon, and there are MANY Alice Marie Johnsons, that’s why Obama ordered lists). Call me cynical but I find it likely that Trump would obsess about anything powerful enough to make Kim Kardashian beg him for anything.
You can imagine Trump looking into the mirror in the morning, feeling the power to alter lives pulsing through him, oblivious to the fact that he alters far more lives with each ultra-conservative appointment to the bench. But we digress.
That kind of raw, unchecked power has the Trump staff’s attention, their “minder-responsibility” radar-locked. According to Newsweek (linked above):
A potential pardon for Johnson would stand out among the others the president has already issued. Recently, Trump pardoned conservative commentator and outspoken Barack Obama critic Dinesh D’Souza, claiming the government had treated D’Souza unfairly when he pleaded guilty to illegal campaign finance law violations in 2014.
Yeah, pardons should be reserved for wealthy conservatives who flamed President Obama for a living and not on first time, non-violent, small drug offenders serving lifetime sentences, that looks liberal.
There is speculation that Trump had further motivation for hearing out Kim Kardashian (beyond staring at Kim as she turns to leave rooms), but it’s still all about Trump:
Kardashian’s meeting with Trump drew both criticism and praise for both parties, but the president also reportedly had a different motive than hearing out a plea for Johnson’s pardon. The president evidently believed that Kardashian and her husband, rapper Kanye West, had helped Trump’s approval ratings among African American voters, according to Bloomberg.
I am fully supportive of a review of all life sentences for drug convictions, but not isolated cases brought by people whom Trump clearly just enjoys hearing beg him for anything.
In the past, we always assumed that political pressure and a sense of shame could leash down most of the unchecked power to pardon. With Trump immune to both, I can imagine a scenario where people imprisoned on somewhat questionable circumstances fire their attorney, and hire the hottest A-list actresses to be their advocate, using all their allure to massage out the ultimate residual Article II power.
God, no wonder he’s obsessed with it. He’s likely got fantasies going already.
**Overwhelming demand and an inability to defend the oversight any longer have led me to finally establish my twitter account, I’d be honored if you followed me at @MiciakZoom