The presidency holds no power as absolute as the power to pardon. No rules, no appeals. Last week, Trump pardoned conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza. D’Souza pleaded guilty to two counts of illegal campaign contributions in 2014 to a New York Senate candidate, setting up separate identities.
This week, Trump is floating the idea to reporters that he is considering pardoning Martha Stewart and commuting former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s sentence. Trump already pardoned Joe Arpaio, whom Pence said had “great respect for the law.” Trump has also talked about pardoning or commuting the sentences of the two former “Apprentice” series stars.
Do you see the common thread running through all of this? Okay, I grant you, there’s more than one. But the single most important one is that some people are above the law. I am speaking specifically of Arpaio, and D’Souza now. Trump is also signaling that “corruption” or even ignoring judges, is not that big a deal. Blagojevich essentially “sold” a Senate seat to the highest bidder and has done nothing at all to redeem himself, not publicly anyway. But, who caught Blagojevich and prosecuted him? Patrick Fitzgerald, one of the nation’s most trusted prosecutor’s, a Mueller’s Mueller-type. THAT is a big F-U to Robert Mueller, and every prosecutor at DOJ knows it.
What did Martha plead to? Lying to the FBI. She had been caught up in an insider trading investigation. She plead down to one count of lying to the FBI and ended up doing time, because she did two things one does best to avoid: major inside trading and even minor lies to the FBI.
Think about the message running through all of this. Lying and corruption happens all the time, it’s not a big deal and probably the FBI’s fault. Everyone does a little corruption. People like Joe Arpaio are the “good guys” and we all know “the type” that should face criminal charges, and they don’t look like Donald Trump. Last, with respect to the Apprentice, Trump is shouting out to Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, “I take care of my friends.”
Trump is attempting to condition you and I to re-thinking how we picture criminals, who deserves punishment, who doesn’t, and that justice isn’t blind. Justice has her eyes wide open and the scales are weighted with dollars and “loyalty.”
If you’ve read this far, thank you, so many just read headlines now, and I get it, everyone’s busy. But, I just want to say, hundreds of applications for pardons are filed daily with a special department within DOJ. There, a dedicated staff goes through each one to find the diamond in the rough, someone who has proven over years that he or she doesn’t deserve to serve the rest of their time, or was convicted wrongly in the first place. All of these people are being leap-frogged right now, by people Trump needs, in order to send a message.
I am about as angry at him as I’ve been, and that is saying something.