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timschochet

The Presidential Pardon thread

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I thought it would be interesting and fun to have a thread discussing Presidential pardons. I want to look at past pardons, particularly the controversial ones, to talk about whether they were good or bad, current pardons, potential pardons, posthumous pardons. I’d like to talk about people who have been discussed for pardon but not received it (for instance, Leonard Peltier) and why. And I want to include commutations in this thread as well. 

I’ll start on particular cases next week, but my question today is, are Presidential pardons a good idea in the first place? It seems like a throwback to the power of kings. Consider: we already have a jury system and independent judges to determine guilt or innocence. Then if that doesn’t achieve justice we have an appeals court. If justice is still not achieved, we have a circuit court, and beyond that we have a Supreme Court. My point is we have an awful lot of backstops to make sure there is justice. Given this, what is the purpose of an executive having the power to overrule all of them? 

Nearly every President has been accused of political corruption for some of their pardons: the most famous examples in modern history are Gerald Ford for Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton for Marc Rich, Donald Trump for Joe Arpeio. Putting aside the details of each case (we’ll get to them) couldn’t you argue that the pardon power will almost guarantee the potential of corruption? 

Interested to know your thoughts.  

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Trump pardons Conrad Black

Quote

 

Prior to Monday of last week, I had only once before, 18 years ago, received a telephone call from an incumbent president of the United States. I had not spoken to the current president since he took office. When my assistant said there was a call from the White House, I picked up, said “Hello” and started to ask if this was a prank (suspecting my friends in the British tabloid media), but the caller spoke politely over me: “Please hold for the president.” Two seconds later probably the best-known voice in the world said “Is that the great Lord Black?” I said “Mr. President, you do me great honour telephoning me.”

He could not have been more gracious and quickly got to his point: he was granting me a full pardon that would “Expunge the bad rap you got.” He had followed the case closely and offered to come to give evidence at my trial in Chicago in 2007 on one of the counts (I was acquitted of that one). He said that there would be some controversy, “But you can handle that better than anyone.” I asked “Do you authorize me to say that your motivation is that it was an unjust verdict?” He checked with the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, who was in the room, if this would be a problem legally, and was told and affirmed to me that I could say that was his motive and that he was reversing an unjust verdict.

“We’ve known each other a long time,” the president told me, “but that wasn’t any part of the reason. Nor has any of the supportive things you’ve said and written about me.” I suggested that he knew ”better than anyone” the antics of some U.S. prosecutors. (I had had Robert Mueller as director of the FBI, which we caught installing illegal bugging devices in our home in New York and in many falsehoods; James Comey as deputy attorney-general, and Patrick Fitzgerald, now Comey’s counsel, as U.S. attorney in Chicago. They were all, as my distinguished caller on Monday has described Comey, “bad cops.”) We moved briefly on to generalities, greetings to wives, I thanked him for his call and again for the purpose of his call, and the conversation ended.

- By Conrad Black, convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice.

- This is the first pardon of a non-American since Marc Rich.

Edited by SaintsInDome2006

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23 minutes ago, SaintsInDome2006 said:

Trump pardons Conrad Black

- By Conrad Black.

- This is the first pardon of a non-American since Marc Rich.

"This has nothing to do with all the supportive things you've said about me".  Probably also doesn't have anything to do with the fact that it was an obstruction of justice case.

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I'm sure @ren hoek is going to love this.

Breaking News: President Trump is showing signs he will pardon several servicemen accused of war crimes. He asked for paperwork to be prepared by Memorial Day

https://nyti.ms/2HB8KbJ

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Unreal - 

The others are believed to include the case of a former Blackwater security contractor recently found guilty in the deadly 2007 shooting of dozens of unarmed Iraqis; the case of Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, the Army Green Beret accused of killing an unarmed Afghan in 2010; and the case of a group of Marine Corps snipers charged with urinating on the corpses of dead Taliban fighters.

 

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1 minute ago, whoknew said:

Unreal - 

The others are believed to include the case of a former Blackwater security contractor recently found guilty in the deadly 2007 shooting of dozens of unarmed Iraqis; the case of Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, the Army Green Beret accused of killing an unarmed Afghan in 2010; and the case of a group of Marine Corps snipers charged with urinating on the corpses of dead Taliban fighters.

 

Eddie Gallagher’s own SEAL teammates say they messed with the sights on his rifle to screw up his aim because he kept targeting women and children. Definitely Trump’s kinda guy

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14 hours ago, Mister CIA said:

Pardons for murderers.  I think this is a new low. 

Trump: Hold my Arnold Palmer.

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8 minutes ago, Maurile Tremblay said:

I think it’s an impeachable offense. Add it to the list.

This is a strongly worded statement. What is your level of concern?

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9 minutes ago, Maurile Tremblay said:

I think it’s an impeachable offense. Add it to the list.

I wish Pelosi would fire up an impeachment hearing on a Monday and have it gift-wrapped and delivered to the Senate on Tuesday.

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17 minutes ago, Mario Kart said:

This is a strongly worded statement. What is your level of concern?

Not all uses of the pardon power are proper. Some subvert the rule of law or the public trust in a way that should not be allowed. I think the currently contemplated pardons are improper because nullifying convictions for war crimes subverts the rule of law. But legally, the pardon power seems pretty absolute. The Constitution gives the President the legal authority to make these kinds of pardons. Since there’s no legal remedy to check the President against making improper pardons, the appropriate remedy is the political tool of impeachment.

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11 minutes ago, Maurile Tremblay said:

Not all uses of the pardon power are proper. Some subvert the rule of law or the public trust in a way that should not be allowed. I think the currently contemplated pardons are improper because nullifying convictions for war crimes subverts the rule of law. But legally, the pardon power seems pretty absolute. The Constitution gives the President the legal authority to make these kinds of pardons. Since there’s no legal remedy to check the President against making improper pardons, the appropriate remedy is the political tool of impeachment.

I disagree. 

Unless you can prove corruption, what Trump is doing is a political action- he is pardoning these guys because, hey it’s our military and we’re tough and we protect our own. There is precedence for this, going all the way back to the Civil War. Most infamous modern example is Lt Calley I believe (My Lai massacre.) 

In any event, as repellant as what Trump is doing, it is not a high crime or misdemeanor IMO, and therefore the appropriate remedy is not to impeach him but to elect somebody else. 

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48 minutes ago, Maurile Tremblay said:
15 hours ago, Mister CIA said:

Pardons for murderers.  I think this is a new low. 

I think it’s an impeachable offense. Add it to the list.

Is it impeachable because you think murders shouldn't be pardoned? Or because you think war crime murders shouldn't be pardoned?

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8 minutes ago, timschochet said:

I disagree. 

Unless you can prove corruption, what Trump is doing is a political action- he is pardoning these guys because, hey it’s our military and we’re tough and we protect our own. There is precedence for this, going all the way back to the Civil War. Most infamous modern example is Lt Calley I believe (My Lai massacre.) 

In any event, as repellant as what Trump is doing, it is not a high crime or misdemeanor IMO, and therefore the appropriate remedy is not to impeach him but to elect somebody else. 

Wrong, wronger, wrongest.

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2 minutes ago, [scooter] said:

Is it impeachable because you think murders shouldn't be pardoned? Or because you think war crime murders shouldn't be pardoned?

It’s the motivation. Pardons for murder (or for war crimes) would be okay if there was doubt about guilt (despite the conviction) or if individual circumstances made the sentence unfair, etc.

But if it’s just “people on my team don’t have to follow the law,” which appears to be the case here, the pardon is improper.

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Ted Lieu has spoken: Dear @TomiLahren

"Our military personnel are brave, patriotic & smart. I've tried multiple cases before military juries. They take into account a Member's service record and demand evidence beyond a reasonable doubt before convicting. I trust military members. Do you?"

What do former military on the GOP side have to say?

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1 hour ago, timschochet said:

I disagree. 

Unless you can prove corruption, what Trump is doing is a political action- he is pardoning these guys because, hey it’s our military and we’re tough and we protect our own. There is precedence for this, going all the way back to the Civil War. Most infamous modern example is Lt Calley I believe (My Lai massacre.) 

In any event, as repellant as what Trump is doing, it is not a high crime or misdemeanor IMO, and therefore the appropriate remedy is not to impeach him but to elect somebody else. 

More sincerely, this is a big problem.  Trump is delivering a big FU to senior military officers. 

Impeach.

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1 hour ago, timschochet said:

In any event, as repellant as what Trump is doing, it is not a high crime or misdemeanor IMO, and therefore the appropriate remedy is not to impeach him but to elect somebody else. 

"A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions."

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42 minutes ago, SoBeDad said:

Ted Lieu has spoken: Dear @TomiLahren

"Our military personnel are brave, patriotic & smart. I've tried multiple cases before military juries. They take into account a Member's service record and demand evidence beyond a reasonable doubt before convicting. I trust military members. Do you?"

What do former military on the GOP side have to say?

Lindsey Graham was a JAG prosecutor. Can’t wait to see him throw all of that away when he responds to defend Trump. 

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1 hour ago, timschochet said:

Unless you can prove corruption, what Trump is doing is a political action- he is pardoning these guys because, hey it’s our military and we’re tough and we protect our own. There is precedence for this, going all the way back to the Civil War. Most infamous modern example is Lt Calley I believe (My Lai massacre.) 

In any event, as repellant as what Trump is doing, it is not a high crime or misdemeanor IMO, and therefore the appropriate remedy is not to impeach him but to elect somebody else. 

Calley was never pardoned. Many prominent politicians lobbied to have Calley's sentence commuted or pardoned, but Nixon refused to intervene except to allow Calley to await his appeal in house arrest (instead of appealing from prison). His conviction was eventually overturned by the courts, and the Army subsequently commuted his sentence to "time served".

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As a veteran I really have little but contempt for these guys. They dishonored themselves, their units and everyone who wears the uniform has a little bit of that dishonor clinging to them. Their punishment was deserved. To undo that is wrong. Further this would send the absolute worst message not only to our troops but to our enemies. Anything goes is not the mess we want to find our servicemen and women in.

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10 hours ago, timschochet said:

I disagree. 

Unless you can prove corruption, what Trump is doing is a political action- he is pardoning these guys because, hey it’s our military and we’re tough and we protect our own. There is precedence for this, going all the way back to the Civil War. Most infamous modern example is Lt Calley I believe (My Lai massacre.) 

In any event, as repellant as what Trump is doing, it is not a high crime or misdemeanor IMO, and therefore the appropriate remedy is not to impeach him but to elect somebody else. 

Tim, violating morality and law for aggrandizement of political power is a form of corruption, don’t you know that?

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52 minutes ago, SaintsInDome2006 said:

Tim, violating morality and law for aggrandizement of political power is a form of corruption, don’t you know that?

Sure. In theory. But how is he violating the law? 

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36 minutes ago, timschochet said:

Sure. In theory. But how is he violating the law? 

Go back and read MT’s OP again. Subverting the rule of law is the kind of misconduct and constitutional principle that impeachment was created for.

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I won’t weigh in on the legality of it but ethically this is so disgusting 

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3 minutes ago, Maurile Tremblay said:

“Misdemeanor” doesn’t mean “crime” in 18th century parlance.

I understand it’s a question of interpretation. 

I guess my main objection to your argument is that the Constitution puts no limitations on the power to pardon. It doesn’t have to be done for noble or moral or just reasons; it can be purely political. Therefore my view of it is pretty broad; unless you can show corruption it seems to me that anything goes. 

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47 minutes ago, timschochet said:

Therefore my view of it is pretty broad; unless you can show corruption it seems to me that anything goes. 

Didn’t your previous post acknowledge corruption?

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1 minute ago, timschochet said:

Not in this instance. 

He's essentially saying, "crime for me and i'll pardon you."  

 

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timschochet said:


But how is he violating the law?


Trump is using U.S. law to exempt Americans who committed and were properly convicted of capital crimes against citizens of other countries. That's a new level of immorality for our country.

The world trusts us to police our own military. When we fail to hold our military members accountable for their crimes, then we lose a little bit of that trust -- and we also lose a little bit of our credibility with our allies.

We are telling the world, "We allow our soldiers to murder civilians with impunity."

That message isn't going to go over well the next time we ask our allies to support one of our military actions.
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Just now, Joe Summer said:

 


Trump is using U.S. law to exempt Americans who committed and were properly convicted of capital crimes against citizens of other countries. That's a new level of immorality for our country.

The world trusts us to police our own military. When we fail to hold our military members accountable for their crimes, then we lose a little bit of that trust -- and we also lose a little bit of our credibility with our allies.

We are telling the world, "We allow our soldiers to murder civilians with impunity."

That message isn't going to go over well the next time we ask our allies to support one of our military actions.

I agree with all of this 100%. If you’re looking for me to defend Trump’s actions look somewhere else. 

But he is allowed to pardon people. He doesn’t need to offer reasons. Unless there is corruption (meaning, in this instance, somebody paid Trump to pardon somebody) I just don’t see this as an impeachable offense. Trump has committed other numerous impeachable offenses, however. 

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Golsteyn and the Marines , yes

Blackwater, no

Gallagher, strange case but why would fellow SEALS speak against him if it didn’t happen? 

 

Sending someone to  8 or 9 combat tours is insane 

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21 minutes ago, HellToupee said:

Golsteyn and the Marines , yes

Blackwater, no

Gallagher, strange case but why would fellow SEALS speak against him if it didn’t happen? 

 

Sending someone to  8 or 9 combat tours is insane 

I’m curious why yes for Golsteyn and the Marines? Wouldn’t we want to let the trials play out and let the military courts decide?

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Former Marine Commandant Gen. Charles Krulak who served in the Marine Corps for more than three decades before retiring in 1999 as the 31st Commandant. a two-time Purple Heart recipient and son of legendary Lt. Gen. Victor "Brute" Krulak,

 

For almost 15 years I have led a group that has grown to more than 170 retired admirals and generals who share a belief that fidelity to our nation's most cherished ideals is the foundation of our security. If President Trump follows through on reports that he will mark Memorial Day by pardoning individuals accused or convicted of war crimes, he will betray these ideals and undermine decades of precedent in American military justice that has contributed to making our country's fighting forces the envy of the world.

As General Martin Dempsey, retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently stated, "Absent evidence of innocence or injustice the wholesale pardon of US servicemembers accused of war crimes signals [to] our troops and allies that we don't take the Law of Armed Conflict seriously."

Disregard for the law undermines our national security by reducing combat effectiveness, increasing the risks to our troops, hindering cooperation with allies, alienating populations whose support the United States needs in the struggle against terrorism, and providing a propaganda tool for extremists who wish to do us harm.

More important than the message such pardons would send to others, however, is that which it would send to our own servicemembers and citizens. As the late Senator John McCain said in 2011 about torture and war crimes:

"This is a moral debate. It is about who we are. I don't mourn the loss of any terrorist's life. What I do mourn is what we lose when by official policy or official neglect we confuse or encourage those who fight this war for us to forget that best sense of ourselves. Through the violence, chaos and heartache of war, through deprivation and cruelty and loss, we are always Americans, and different, stronger and better than those who would destroy us."

If President Trump issues indiscriminate pardons of individuals accused – or convicted by their fellow servicemembers -- of war crimes, he relinquishes the United States' moral high ground and undermines the good order and discipline critical to winning on the battlefield. I urge the President against taking this step and hope that Members of Congress will oppose it.

 

https://www.google.com/amp/s/taskandpurpose.com/krulak-statement-trump-warcrimes-2637733923.amp.html

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