“a flurry of pardons and commutations — largely to a mix of political cronies and allies, from people caught in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation to corrupt ex-members of Congress.”
“The president has used his pardon powers to the benefit of political allies before. He recently pardoned his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Prior to that, Trump granted reprieves to adviser Roger Stone and former Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who endorsed and campaigned for Trump.
Harvard professor Jack Goldsmith estimated 88 percent of Trump’s pardons and commutations have gone to people with personal or political ties to Trump. The latest pardons “continue Trump’s unprecedented pattern of issuing self-serving pardons and commutations that advance his personal interests, reward friends, seek retribution against enemies, or gratify political constituencies,” Goldsmith told the Times.”
“Past presidents have also used their pardon powers for friends and allies. Former President Bill Clinton triggered controversy when he issued more than 100 pardons on his last day in office, including to his half-brother and to Marc Rich, whose ex-wife was a Clinton donor.
These longstanding problems have led some activists to call for reform of the pardon process, fashioning it to be less a tool of political and personal favors and instead a means to criminal justice reform.”
“As with the Justice Department’s unprecedented attempt to dismiss charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn after he pleaded guilty in open court to making false statements to the FBI, Stone’s pardon is a case of the Trump administration citing legitimate problems with the criminal justice system for nakedly cynical and self-serving ends. The Justice Department did not care about excessive sentencing or unfair prosecutions before. It does not care about them now, and it will not care about them when they’re used again to railroad defendants who aren’t Trump’s allies.
This isn’t the first time the Trump administration has stepped in to protect Stone. A federal grand jury indicted Stone last January on seven counts of obstruction of justice, false statements, and witness tampering stemming from Special Prosecutor Roger Mueller’s probe of Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election. Stone was convicted on all counts in November.
Federal prosecutors originally recommended a seven- to nine-year prison sentence for Stone, prompting Trump to fume on Twitter that this was “horrible and very unfair.” A day later, the Justice Department overrode the line prosecutors’ recommendations—an almost unheard of event—saying Stone deserved a far lighter sentence.”
“Stone, a longtime Republican operative, was convicted in November 2019 for obstructing a congressional investigation, lying to Congress, and witness tampering in a trial that stemmed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. On February 20, Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison.
Trump’s commutation landed just days before Stone was expected to report to prison on July 14.
The commutation stops short of a full pardon. The conviction will remain on Stone’s record — for now, at least. But the Trump ally won’t have to serve his approximately three-year prison term.”