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Barack Obama’s philosophy of life is “be the change you want to see.” Ironically, Donald Trump has a similar philosophy. He indulged his autocratic impulses today and sent an amplified version of the same message that he previously sent with his pardons of Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, play ball with me and I’ll set you free. This is Trump at his Cantaloupe Caligula best, playing emperor and dispensing favors, and basking in self satisfaction while doing so. Axios:

Driving the news: Convicted former GOP Reps. Duncan Hunter, Chris Collins — the first two congressmen to endorse Trump in the 2016 election — and Russia probe figures George Papadopoulos and Alex van der Zwaan were among the wave of 15 pardons and five commutations.

Now make no mistake, this isn’t Trump being magnanimous, this is Trump broadcasting a dog whistle to legislators, keep him in power and you’ll be bullet proof. That’s the message here. Oh, and lying to the FBI is a non-issue. That’s peanuts. Of course you’re going to get to walk for that level of trivia.

Trump also granted clemency to:

  • Former GOP Rep. Steve Stockman, who has been serving a 10-year sentence for misusing charitable funds. His sentence was commuted.
  • Four military contractors involved in the 2007 killings of more than dozen Iraqi civilians in Baghdad. Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard were all serving long prison sentences. They received pardons.

Between the lines: These won’t necessarily be Trump’s last pardons or commutations before he leaves office. As Axios’ Jonathan Swan reported earlier this month, the president has been discussing handing out pardons “like Christmas gifts.”

It’s a no brainer that misuse of charitable funds is another non issue in Trump world, since he and his kids do it all the time. How could that possibly be a crime? It’s called take from the stupid and give to the rich. What’s wrong with that?

The financial pardons are totally on brand, but as to the Blackwater pardons, that carries a bit more of an ominous note. Opening fire on unarmed civilians stuck in traffic on a crowded street is difficult to justify but Trump has done it. That is truly cringe worthy, but it makes sense because he has no respect for human life, but he adores dictators. What a piece of work.

 

 

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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