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Pardon me? Trump abuses executive power

EDITORIAL
May 31. 2018 9:34PM




The wheels of justice turn slowly, unless you catch the fleeting attention of President Donald Trump.

Trump on Thursday tweeted that he would be issuing a full pardon to conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, who sharpened his skills as editor of The Dartmouth Review.

D’Souza was charged by then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of violating campaign finance laws by reimbursing two women for contributions to a 2012 U.S. Senate candidate.

Facing jail time, D’Souza pleaded guilty to a single felony count just before his trial was to begin in 2014, receiving community service, a fine, and five years probation.

We have no doubt that D’Souza’s harsh criticism of President Barack Obama helped draw Bharara’s attention to the case, and perhaps fueled Bharara’s zeal for a conviction. But that doesn’t mean D’Souza was innocent. He admitted to the crime in open court.

Not including D’Souza, Trump has issued four pardons and commuted one sentence, most recently pardoning deceased boxer Jack Johnson for the crime of transporting a white woman across state lines.

His pardon of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio was unconscionable. Arpaio routinely abused his power, and his prisoners.

Trump’s pardon of former Bush administration official Scooter Libby was justified. The case against Libby never held water.

Half of those benefitting from Trump’s use of the presidential pardon power are his political allies. Trump is considering leniency for former Apprentice colleagues Rod Blagojevich and Martha Stewart.

The Constitution gives Trump complete discretion to grant pardons. Handing out leniency to please his base is not illegal, but it is improper. Less famous victims of prosecutorial overreach deserve his attention.


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