We should have paid closer attention when candidate Donald Trump told a rally in Sioux City, Iowa, on January 23, 2016, that he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s like incredible.”
It was probably the only honest thing he said since he announced for president. He’s lived up to that statement practically every day he’s been in the White House. He shoots the Constitution, and out there in Trumpland, they cheer. He shoots the FBI, and they cheer. He shoots his own Department of Justice, and they cheer. He’s shot Attorney General Jeff Sessions so many times he looks like a vegetable strainer. He machine-gunned the rule of law in this country, and his supporters stand up and cheer him on.
Most recently, he’s been shooting at the pardon clause of the Constitution, issuing one this week to unrepentant felon and certified right-wing loon Dinesh D’Souza, who he said was “very unfairly treated” when he pled guilty to violating campaign laws and was sentenced to a fine and community service. He pardoned the outright racist, law-breaking Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, the execrable Joe Arpaio. He pardoned Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, who lied us into the Iraq War. Libby was convicted of lying to the FBI and obstruction of justice concerning the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. Trump loves his fellow liars. We should have seen that coming, too.
Now he’s promising to commute the sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, convicted of perjury, bribery and extortion and sentenced to 14 years in federal prison. And he’s said he plans to pardon lifestyle-maven Martha Stewart, convicted of lying to the FBI in a case about insider trading.
What do all of these pardons and commutations have in common? They were issued to criminals who were convicted by Trump’s sworn enemies. D’Souza was prosecuted by former New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, a fierce Trump critic. Blagojevich was put in jail by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, U.S. attorney in Chicago and a close friend of former FBI Director James Comey. Martha Stewart was prosecuted by Trump nemesis Comey himself while he was a U.S. attorney, before he was appointed FBI director.
Trump issued his pardons without consulting the Department of Justice or following the same official procedures followed by every other president. It’s his way of giving the finger to the rule of law. He’s telling the whole world that when it comes to justice and the rule of law in the United States, he is in total control. The pardon power given to the president of the United States is a relic of monarchial English law, and Trump is using it like the monarch he considers himself to be.
The man who openly expresses his admiration for dictators like Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey is relishing the absolute power afforded by the pardon. It’s incredible to think of, but Trump wasn’t satisfied with being elected president of the United States. He wants to be a dictator, so he’s acting like one.
Trump realized early on — perhaps as early as his prediction that he could commit murder and not lose any voters — that he could violate political norms, flaunt campaign laws, commit outright felonies and use his office to get rich, and he could do it in the open and get away with it. This is the real difference between Trump and Richard Nixon, who conspired with a small circle of aides and committed his felonies in secret, behind closed doors.
Source: With every pardon, Trump is giving the finger to the rule of law | Salon.com