Trump’s Flynn grace evokes fear of politicizing tremendous power

David Jackson
John Fritze
Kevin Johnson

| USA ma


WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s grace Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn may have had political dynamism in another era last week – the divisive application of grace on Thanksgiving at the presidency at dusk.

Instead, the move provoked only a slight reaction from congressional Democrats and a silence on the part of President-elect Joe Biden and most Republicans. and became a secondary status on cable news networks by the end of the weekend.

As Trump is considering giving further grace to close co-workers – and perhaps family members, and even himself – experts say he may not pay much at a political price, regardless of who the recipients are. The number of pardons signed by Trump — with which the unorthodox mode by which he exercised power — could have made the public insensitive to the issue.

“Flynn’s grace is indefensible at all levels, but people expect nothing more from Donald Trump,” said Neal Katyal, a legal analyst and former attorney at law under President Barack Obama’s administration.

“Very few days pass when Trump did not create a scandal that could undo the pre-administration,” he said. “After nearly four years, people are exhausted.”

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Trump is far from the first president to grant clemency with political consequences. In his last days in office, President Bill Clinton pardoned Marc Rich financier, Brother Roger Clinton and Susan McDougal as Whitewater’s business partner. President George HW Bush pardoned assistants caught in the counter-scandal in Iran in the mid-1980s. President Gerald Ford, a month after Nixon resigned as president, pardoned Richard Nixon.

Trump deviated from the norm by offering disputed graces and commutations from the beginning of his tenure. In 2017, the president granted first grace to former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. The politically polarizing figure, who did not comply with the Department of Justice’s pardon guidelines, was convicted after violating a judge’s order to release detainees suspected of immigration crimes.

A year later, Trump forgave Conservative writer Dinesh D’Souza, the president’s outspoken supporter, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to violating the campaign finance law. In July, Trump commuted the sentence of Roger Stone, a long-established person convicted of lying, to protect Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign from investigating Russian election intervention.

Former Federal Prosecutor Miriam Krinsky, a former executive director of the Justice and Home Prosecutor’s Office advocating for a change in criminal justice policy, said the “politicization” of the pardon process under Trump’s rule was “worrying.”

“This is one of the areas where protective barriers need to be restored,” Krinsky said, suggesting that one way to do this could be to hand over the review process to an independent organization.

Flynn, who spent less than a month as Trump’s chief security adviser at the White House, pleaded guilty three years ago for lying to the FBI after Sergei Kislyak’s conversations with Russian ambassador after the 2016 election. Trump announced the pardon in a tweet last week.

The decision accepted criticism from some Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi is president of California WHO Described it as “serious corruption”. Senator Lindsey Graham, of RS.C., a close ally of Trump, praised the move and argued that Flynn was a “victim of a politically motivated investigation”.

While Biden did not turn to Flynn’s pardon at the time and the temporary assistants did not respond to the request for comment, the elected president raised the issue of preliminary pardon in an interview on Thursday. Biden told CNN that “he will not see this kind of approach to grace in our administration,” and added that he will not make political announcements on Twitter.

Wide power, divided nation

The reaction to Flynn’s pardon, though silenced, underscored the President’s broad powers of pardon. increasingly – like much else – on a partisan line: Democrats are outraged and Trump’s supporters are cheering. This division, according to several experts, may partly explain why some Americans shrug their shoulders.

“He has a large and loyal base who accepts his explanation for his actions, which will likely be that he and the people he has pardoned have done nothing wrong and need to be protected from the deep state,” said Brian Kalt, a law professor at Michigan State University.

Amid an epidemic that has killed more than 275,000 people in the United States, unemployment and the punishment of the ongoing debates on the Beltway are unlikely to use the president’s power of grace to attract anyone’s attention for long.

Nevertheless, Flynn’s grace sparked speculation about further graces. Fox News personality Sean Hannity, an ally of Trump, has suggested that Trump grant himself a preventive grace. Trump discussed whether to grant anticipatory grace to his children and attorney Rudy Giuliani, The New York Times wrote.

“Given that Trump has used his power of grace so far, you can expect to give a lot of grace outside the box and a lot of grace in the coming days. to those close to him and perhaps to himself“said Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor.

Giuliani firmly denied having negotiated a preventive pardon with Trump.

Circumvention of the review

Trump issued 29 graces and issued 16 commutations, reducing short sentences.

This highlights another way in which Trump used the forces of grace differently than his predecessors: bypassing the usual review of candidates. Instead of first debating their case at the Department of Justice, where the pardon law firm is considering pardon requests, friends and staff went straight to Trump or searched for a show on Fox News.

This practice sent a message to those seeking mercy.

Caroline Polisi, a lawyer for George Trad’s former campaign adviser to Trump, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, said the pardon was filed on behalf of his client, but through the Department of Justice.

Polisi did not detail.

“George’s case is a perfect illustration of the unfortunate reality of the U.S. criminal justice system, where the constitutional ideal of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt yields to practical reality,” the lawyer said.

Papadopoulos spent 12 days in prison.

In a CNN interview, Biden indicated that he would return the pardon application and review process to the Department of Justice.

Keith Whittington, a political scientist at Princeton University who wrote about graces, said Trump stood out with controversial grace subsidies throughout his presidency.

“And a general feature of his presidency is that he has done so many unusual things that actions that can usually be in conflict with any other president hardly cause a surge with Trump,” Whittington said. “It is possible to bake controversial graces in Trump’s presidency like many unorthodox things and not mix more than the usual partisan reactions.”

If so, Whittington says Trump will have to face Congressional Republicans during the lame duck period if some of those considering the 2024 presidency decide it’s time to differentiate between themselves and the president who signaled it. that can make you start again in four years. So far, little has been said about what Whittington Trump called “post-election clowning”.