Saturday, June 2, 2018

Dinesh D'Souza: Why did Trump pardon the provocateur?

President Trump has pardoned a convicted white collar criminal Dinesh D'Souza, known more for his notoriously bigotry-ridden and racially charged views than anything good. His pardon of such criminals is sending a wrong message to the nation. Here is how an analyst   sees the issue.
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The D'Souza pardon marks the third time Mr Trump has used his presidential power to absolve a high-profile conservative convicted by federal prosecutors.
Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an outspoken anti-immigration advocate, received his for a contempt of court citation after refusing to obey the orders of a federal judge.
Scooter Libby, who was chief of staff for Vice-President Dick Cheney, had his conviction for lying to government investigators expunged.
It may be no coincidence that the focus of Mr Trump's pardons - campaign finance law violations, lying to federal investigators and disregard for the judicial process - are criminal infractions hang over several members of the president's circle.
The president could be sending a message to his people that he views that they - like Libby, Arpaio and D'Souza - are the targets of out-of-control federal prosecutors. Perhaps he is offering a very visible display of his willingness to use his sweeping authority to remedy what he perceives not just as wrongs in the past - but also those that may come.
At the very least, with his actions and Thursday's comments that he is entertaining pardons for former Democratic Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (abuse of power) and home-decor guru Martha Stewart (obstruction of justice and lying to investigators), the president is demonstrating that he is willing to exercise a much freer hand with his presidential powers.
Over the years the presidential pardon authority has been governed by an extended (some would say overly bureaucratic) process of review and approval by Department of Justice lawyers.
Breaks from those traditions, such as with George HW Bush's pardoning of Reagan-era Defence Secretary Casper Weinberger and Bill Clinton's of financier and deep-pocketed political donor Marc Rich, came in the final days of a presidency and were met with controversy and outcry.
Mr Trump, with his pardons over his first 16 months in office, is eroding another political norm and flexing political power the scope of which, in the US Constitution, is largely undefined.
For the president and his supporters, the actions are ones of liberation, absolving those who had been unjustly punished - even for crimes they have admitted committing.
Conservative commentator and Trump critic David Frum of The Atlantic has a more blunt assessment.
"The most effective way for an authoritarian leader to abuse the law is not by prosecuting the innocent, but by protecting the guilty," he tweeted.

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