Frankly I think he should pardon Snowden and Assange (if he's gonna give people the bird why not extend it to the establishment) and Joe Exotic (because the lulz of doing that would be on brand for him) while he's at it. Unlike Levandowsky, Snowden and (to a lesser extent) Assange are deserving of pardons in much of the public's eyes.
It licences the principle that intelligence can be leaked without legal consequence "by the conscience" of the leaker.
Is that really how intelligence should be conducted? Most people are idiots; and do not know the ramifications of what they do.
It is perfectly reasonable for something to be both moral and illegal, and remain punishable. Ie., it is Good that these leaks occured, but nevertheless, we require the leakers to pay some cost for it.
If that cost is "in practice" merely exile from the country, that seems a reasonable compromise.
Edit: I do think I understand your overall point though. Actually leaking information should be a very serious decision, and should not be taken lightly.
That is to say, if e.g. Snowden's actions were civil disobedience, it's not incoherent to say both that:
1. He was right to leak the info, and
2. He need not be pardoned in the name of justice.
And I do believe this is inconsistent if you believe that justice has anything to do with right and wrong actions.
Your argument is:
1. There are right and wrong actions.
2. Justice does not decide or even attempt at determining right and wrong.
3. Therefore doing something right or wrong has no bearing on the outcome of our justice system.
As an individual, what your are saying is important and I agree. We have to call upon ourselves to do the right thing in spite of the consequences. But often times civil disobedience seeks to change the injustice of the current system and if that system never changes or adapts as a result then the outcome will always be the same. This may have happened in the case with Snowden (though we can still correct it) but it has not been the same throughout history. I’m very glad that we did not simply exile all our civil rights leaders with no thought given toward bringing a greater sense of fairness to our judicial systems.
I take extreme exception to the idea that somebody should be punished for an act generally considered moral by the public for the purpose of dissuading others.
If some idiot takes it upon themselves, based on a pardon of Snowden, to reveal something not in the public interest and harmful to the state, let them be punished as a warning to others. Leaks of state secrets have been a reality since the beginning of civilisation, one more isn't going to destroy us.
Assange is much more controversial, especially now that he won't be extradited and prosecuted, since his crimes are much more political and he wasn't tactful like Snowden, he published everything he got. There's definitely less public support for his pardon but if the goal is to give the middle finger to the establishment this is the better one because it is controversial.
The power of pardon simply further reduces the trust and legitimacy of the executive branch. At least for humans it should be revoked, I think we can still trust the presidency with the power to pardon turkeys.
E.g. I just saw someone post this book although the post disappeared (?):
Pardongate: How Bill & Hillary Clinton and Their Brothers Profited from Pardons
I don't know anything about the investigation, but no finding does not mean no criminality. Ignoring all the politics involved, there are plenty of more mundane examples. Someone attacks you. You call the police. It's your word against theirs and so the investigation is closed because they cannot show that a crime was committed, but you know it was.
The wiki article cited on HW suggests that bribes may have been constructed as either loans (that were not repaid) or as payment to Hugh Rodham for "representing their cases". Neither is criminal, but it's a simple and classic way of taking a bride and turning it legal by putting another sticker on it. Example:
Almon Glenn Braswell was pardoned of his 1983 mail fraud and perjury convictions. In 1998 he was under federal investigation for money laundering and tax evasion charges. Braswell and Carlos Vignali each paid approximately $200,000 to Hillary Clinton's brother, Hugh Rodham, to represent their respective cases for clemency. Hugh Rodham returned the payments after they were disclosed to the public. Braswell would later invoke the Fifth Amendment at a Senate Committee hearing in 2001, when questioned about allegations of his having systematically defrauded senior citizens of millions of dollars.
ETA: The relevance to today is that the same standards will likely apply to any pardons made by Trump this morning. If people paid other parties to lobby for a Trump pardon then it may not be illegal (as much as it's terrible policy.) If direct payments to Trump or his businesses were made then it could be criminal behavior. There's also precedent for appointing a special prosecutor to investigate it.
"The brisk market for pardons reflects the access peddling that has defined Mr. Trump’s presidency as well as his unorthodox approach to exercising unchecked presidential clemency powers. Pardons and commutations are intended to show mercy to deserving recipients, but Mr. Trump has used many of them to reward personal or political allies."
We can say that A paid for access, made a voluntary contribution, lightened their walled, lent out money that didn't have to be repaid, etc. In practice, these are just ways of phrasing "bribe" differently.
The pardoner, Person C, does not get any money. That is an important distinction.
I'm not saying Trump isn't accepting payments for pardons, I'm saying the NYT article linked above isn't reporting that. They're reporting on lobbying efforts, which don't appear to be illegal.
People pay for the President's time quite frequently. What's interesting about this story is that the folks with access are trying directly to solicit from convicts. I think that's fairly new or at least newsworthy.
A gives B money, C offers A a parson, B does C a favor.
Etc etc etc.
This construction may obscure what's happening and may even make conviction impossible, which we may take to mean that it's no longer illegal. But legal or illegal, it is effectively paying for freedom.
This has nothing to do with lobbying. Freedom is what people pay for.
It's far from perfect, but it's not as nefarious as it sounds. It's a compromise.
Fair enough, lobbying has gotten weird and pay-to-play, though if you don't like what's happening here, I recommend you don't look at what folks are doing about every other major policy initiative throughout Congress.
The Wikipedia article is probably a better overview: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Clinton_pardon_controvers...
The issue isn't Trump issuing a lot of pardons. It's the corrupt (though legal) influence market that is essentially rewarding him financially for doing it.
It's really frustrating that criminal consequences are moot if you find a way to get this president's attention or loyalty.
Just browsing the names and convictions it looks like a pretty decent mix of people genuinely deserving and people who have very powerful people advocating for them. Looks like most of the crimes in the list are drug or fraud related.
I haven't gone down the whole thing but the guy who got LWOP for weed (presumably huge quantities of it) caught my eye.
Unfortunately it is also used by all presidents to pardon their buddies.
I may have missed it: did the Obama Administration pardon a single friend or relative of the Obamas'? Or a single person connected to the administration?
I believe that Obama tried to ensure that the pardon process was beyond reproach. (Some people may disagree with who was pardoned, but the process did not appear to be corrupt in any way.)
Obama ensured that there was a process set up that filtered the pardon requests, so that no hint of political- or personal-favors could intrude, no possible quid-pro-quo, etc.
Yes, Clinton's pardoning of his brother-in-law was pretty bad. Trump's pardoning of his entire slate of co-conspirators and personal associates looks worse, to me personally.
Aren’t pardons generally given post-conviction? How can it be a tool to protect against an incoming administration if the victim has been convicted under the current one?
Unless you mean that in the future, when the outgoing’s party is back in power they can issue pardons. That doesn’t seem to be consistent with the trend that many pardons are issued on a President’s last day in office (and not his first).
It's not an endorsement of corruption, rather an acknowledgement that the price of comity includes some corruption. This seems like an anti-fragile mechanism to me: in exchange for the inevitable but relatively minor injustice of corrupt pardons, we can pre-empt behavior that could lead to all-out political war that destroys the entire system.
I agree, but that's the boolean. There's probably a reasonable float or int description that allows a more nuanced comparison of exactly how much any president did this.
That's not why it exists. Pardon power exists so the President has a way to declare peace on behalf of the government with an individual. It has nothing to do with transfer of power. It's to ensure that the President has an out to call off the wolves of the rest of the government and put a matter behind us.
> Unfortunately it is also used by all presidents to pardon their buddies.
Which is still less corrupt than pardoning your cocaine trafficking, drunk driving brother: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Clinton_Jr.#Conviction_a...
(An amusing detail from the newspaper reports was that Bill Clinton had authorised the sting operation that resulted in his brother's arrest during his tenure as Govenor of Arkansas).
(Ref: https://www.nytimes.com/2001/02/23/us/clinton-pardons-brothe... )
I also have no idea behind the refusal to pardon Assange other than politics. DoJ must have made it clear not to pardon Assange for whatever reason.
It may be that proportionally some presidents show certain “favoritism” while others less. But given some pardon in the thousands it’s hard to say without further study that in absolute numbers one self serves more than another except by using biased heuristics.
Given the way Trump operates in general, there's nothing in the long term that benefits him about having a whistleblower running around free, even if that whistleblower did significant political damage to his opponent one time.
3000 minor drug offenses or 5 mob cronies.
Corvain Cooper – President Trump commuted the sentence of Mr. Corvain Cooper. Mr. Cooper is a 41 year-old father of two girls who has served more than 7 years of a life sentence for his non-violent participation in a conspiracy to distribute marijuana.
For the sake of argument I could've used "child-eating lizard people".
You said he had pardoned fewer people than previous presidents. I said that the number of pardons had no bearing (on whether or not it's abused), and illustrated that point with a hypothetical.
At no point have I made up an argument as yours to attack.
Can you find examples of bad pardons from other Presidents? No doubt. But not on this scale.
Which of these is worse than pardoning your own drug trafficking, drunk driving brother?
I'm not sure if it's better or worse to pardon someone above the table like that or for a president to throw their political weight around behind closed doors to get favorable treatment but it's slimy no matter how you cut it.
(Correction: it was the dropping of the case was months after the pardon. The drunk driving incident and subsequent prosecution was one month after the pardon)
So it wasn't "months" between them like I originally said (it was months to dropping the case), but it was still after it.
I've added a correction to my comment.
In any case it still reeks of some animals being more equal than others.
The pardon of Roger Clinton is bad, but a number of Trump's pardons are worse. The critical difference is that Trump was pardoning people who betrayed the public trust. For example, he pardoned Duke Cunningham , a former Congressman who very explicitly sold his votes in Congress. And he pardoned Kwame Kilpatrick , the former mayor of Detroit who was elected on a promise to clean up Detroit's city government, but instead installed more than two dozen of his friends and family members in city government (they weren't competent, but they got high salaries), and who was convicted of extortion and racketeering.
Another moral category is that, to my knowledge, Bill Clinton was not an accessory to Roger Clinton's crimes (in fact, as governor, he apparently even approved of his brother's arrest). Trump, in contrast, pardoned a number of people found guilty for crimes related to himself.
Also, DUI is a state charge. The pardon was for a federal conviction. Do prior federal convictions affect state sentencing?
Its an imperfect system, just following the script that law provides will lead to injustices. Having an escape hatch is a good thing, even if it is occasionally abused. I would support federal/state congresses overturning pardons though.
> The pardon was backed by several leaders in the technology industry who have supported Trump, including investors Peter Thiel and Blake Masters and entrepreneur Palmer Luckey, according to the White House.
Anyway, one enduring argument for mercy is that can be exercised on those rare occasions where there is some overwhelming contextual argument for why the general law should be overridden, e.g., the Greek play Antigone is effectively built around just such a case.
Not that this argument has anything to do with Trump's unashamed cronyism and self-aggrandisement. But my point is that mercy isn't just an excuse for base corruption.
In the rare case where somebody was actually proven in a criminal court to have stolen trade secrets and taken then directly to a competitor, a pardon is issued by a president who has felt antagonized by the former employer. It seems less like mercy and more like vindictiveness.