On Tuesday evening, the White House announced that President Donald Trump had pardoned 15 people and commuted the sentences of another five for crimes ranging from insider trading to murder, according to the Washington Post:
“President Trump granted clemency on Tuesday to 20 people, including three former Republican members of Congress and two people who were convicted of crimes as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
“He also pardoned four military contractors convicted of killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in 2007, and extended clemency to several people convicted of drug offenses, including some who had already benefited from initial commutations.”
Who will be the next to receive pardons from Trump? According to two former federal prosecutors, the president will likely issue preemptive pardons to his three eldest children.
Paul Butler, the former head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, told MSNBC host Chris Hayes:
“This is a cynical move by Trump. He is laying the groundwork for his — certainly, to come, his pardoning of his family members and maybe Rudy Giuliani. This is strategic, there are those that will be pardoned that deserve clemency, especially those that receive draconian sentences for drug crimes and turned their lives around. And there’s people like this who protected or tried to protect President Trump in the Russian investigation. And this is their reward with many more to come.”
Cynthia Alksne, who also worked as a prosecutor with the DOJ, concurred with Butler, noting:
“There’s not a ton of precedent, but there is in the criminal world. This is essentially a criminal enterprise, and he is pardoning everyone to erase history. We have Roger Stone, we have Michael Flynn. And soon, we will have are everyone else. Now we have Alex van der Zwaan, and George Papadopoulos, Friday night, Christmas night, expect Christmas cards to be flying and more pardons on come.”
Alksne then added:
“He is pardoning everybody in the Mueller probe to try to erase that, a bunch of murderers and political hacks and there’s a couple of people he throws in to hide it all and make it look like it’s a proper use of the pardon power. But, he runs a criminal enterprise, and he is using his power to cover it up and there’s no way to stop him until January 20th.”
The current president does indeed sit atop a criminal enterprise. And his actions need to have consequences once he’s no longer head of state.
Featured Image Via NBC News