We all know that pardons are a controversial thing for a president to do, especially with our current president who seems to walk, and controversy will follow him. President Trump had a last dance of sorts in his final days as president in the form of pardoning fifteen individuals for various crimes. Most of them were at the request of Republican lawmakers allied with the president, conversative media outlets or by Alice Johnson. There are a ton of questions that come along with pardoning when I hear of this occurring: have they learned their lesson? Was the charge serious enough? Is this just one last hurrah to show how much of a stronghold he has on the Republican Party?
Several of the pardons were Trump allies that either lied under oath or committed a crime with which they should have known better. For example, George Papadopoulos and Alex van der Zwaan pled guilty to lying under oath during the Mueller investigation. While there is the argument that the Mueller investigation was politically motivated, we all know it’s wrong to lie under oath; you don’t need to be a lawyer to figure that one out. I talked about the possibility of Trump pardoning Roger Stone months ago for lying (Powerful People in Powerful Positions that Overstep Their Bounds) and another pardoning spree that occurred with President Trump earlier this year (And You Get a Pardon, You Get a Pardon, Everybody Gets a Pardon). I don’t like the notion that if you are loyal to the president, even if you lie, you will be off the hook and go back to your cushy life as normal (we all know most of their lives are pretty cushy). Furthermore, two former Congressman were charged in different crimes and were still exonerated by the president. Again, if you kiss the ring to the king, all your problems, albeit criminal, will just disappear. It’s the Game of Thrones as this current administration has been compared to time and time again…just without the bloodshed.
One of the pardons that made me scratch my head was the Blackwater guards. I understand that new evidence was presented that would have changed the course of the indictment for them, but why compromise international relations for this? We know that one of Trump’s weaknesses is foreign policy. Guess friends in low places are better than diplomacy. You do you, bro.
There are several pardons with which I support, specifically those that were advised by Alice Johnson. There are two women, Crystal Nunoz and Tynice Nicole Hall, that were charged with non-violent drug offenses that were serving or have served 20 years. While they broke the law, the question is whether they should serve that much time. One of Trump’s successes was criminal justice reform with which I hope this is addressed more in the future.
There are critics reading this that are probably saying, “Well one of these people lied and one of these people sold weed out of their house. What’s the difference?” There isn’t much of a difference to be honest, but one thing is for certain. I can almost guarantee that the women pardoned by President Trump have learned their lesson and have reformed themselves to be functioning members of society. The men that are closely aligned with him have not and make society worse because of their own selfish actions. I think it’s safe to say that President Trump’s stronghold on the Republican Party is still solid and will continue to be into the Biden Administration. It will fizzle out eventually and only time will tell, but the pardons show much he is still trying to appease his base and show much his ideologies and populism are going strong.