Patterico's Pontifications

12/24/2020

Trump’s Pardon of Paul Manafort Is Appalling, and the Defenses of It Are False

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



Paul Manafort earned tens of millions of dollars doing immoral and in many cases illegal things, and then hid the proceeds from the U.S. government. He ran a covert lobbying organization for murderous Ukraine dictator Viktor Yanukovych, and created paperwork to make it appear that the lobbyists’ client was a nongovernmental NGO, to evade FARA registration requirements and keep the operation secret. He did the bidding of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, and worked on regime change and installing puppet governments in places like Montenegro, to serve the interests of Deripaska and Putin.

Manafort moved nearly $75 million through offshore accounts that he controlled, and lied to his tax preparer about their existence to avoid paying taxes on it — a fact revealed by emails documenting the lie. He laundered that money through some 32 LLCs created to make the money seem legitimate. He lied to the federal government about whether he still possessed documentation relating to his work for Ukraine — a fact revealed after a search warrant was served on his home — to avoid FARA registration.

That he has been pardoned is predictable, but it is still a disgrace.

I have seen two defenses raised by Trumpy liars on Twitter. Both are false.

One is that Manafort never would have been investigated but for his involvement with Donald Trump. We are told that all investigations into Manafort had been closed, and were reopened by the Special Counsel. This is false. Whoever is saying it is either ignorant or is lying to you. I know this because I read the book by Manafort’s chief prosecutor, Andrew Weissman: Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation (affiliate link). I spent my morning reading time today re-reading several relevant passages from the book, to confirm my memory that four separate investigations were already ongoing and had not been closed when the Special Counsel entered the picture. The investigations included FARA, money laundering, bank fraud, and tax fraud issues. A new prosecutor had recently been appointed on one of those investigations.

While it is true that those investigations were being handled incompetently in many cases and at an indefensibly slow pace, they were ongoing. Manafort’s involvement with Trump did not “reopen” those investigations. It just got a competent and speedy prosecutor in charge of them.

The second defense I have seen is that Manafort is an old man serving a long sentence for “process crimes.” Yes, Manafort lied to the feds and avoided FARA registration requirements, and I suppose those crimes can be fairly called “process crimes” (although I dislike the term). But if the term “process crimes” has been redefined to encompass massive tax evasion and money laundering of tens of millions of dollars, then it has lost all meaning. More likely, the people making this claim are just lying to you. They have sold their souls for the defense of every action Donald Trump takes, and whether their defenses are true or false is, to them, a minor matter of little importance.

Ultimately, Donald Trump is going to pardon everyone who refused to “rat” on him and allow convictions to stand only for cooperators like Michael Cohen and Rick Gates. This is what happens when you give the pardon power to a criminal. Some kind of constitutional reform has to happen, or the pardon power will come to be seen for all time as little more than another tool for presidents to remain above the law.

Absolutely disgraceful.

83 Responses to “Trump’s Pardon of Paul Manafort Is Appalling, and the Defenses of It Are False”

  1. That is inadvertantly funny. Thanks for the laugh.
    Weismann and Trump are equally endowed with principles and trustworthiness. In a just world Weismann would need a pardon, but hey! he already got an informal pardon for being the right kind of unprincipled character. He should be on the night shift wiping down golf carts in Sun City

    I’m not happy with the pardon of Kushner and base some of that on the statements of noted blowhard Chris Christie regarding the facts. But the elder Kushner is the father-in-law of Trumps daughter and it was 15 years ago, so its possible the guy redeemed himself somewhat in the interim, but I believe the most charitable explanation for this pardon is that Trumps daughter asked and Trump acted like a Father who owns a magic f+++ing wand for a limited time. The elder Kushner tampered with a witness, his sisters husband, by sending a prostitute to seduce him and then sent the sex tape to his sister. *bleeping bleeping bleep* what a *bleep*

    steveg (43b7a5)

  2. Another term for “process crime” is felony, and lying to the FBI or to Congress or in court undermines our system of justice. Manafort deserves to rot in jail until he’s dead.
    But there’s one aspect where we should thank Manafort. He had to shell out $26.7 million to the feds in restitution for his fraud, which covered around 80% of the cost of the Mueller investigation. At a net expenditure of around $5 million, the Special Counsel’s work was highly cost effective.

    Paul Montagu (77c694)

  3. Is Trump more a wannabe mob boss… or dictator? I think he prefers dictator. It really amazes me just how close he has gotten to reaching that goal.

    How does he do it? Like… how does he turn on a dime and support a $2,000 AOC-style stimulus check without losing his supporters? And then go on to attack real Republicans as RINOs in his next tweet.

    Cult-like following is all I can come up with too. He was made for this.

    noel (9fead1)

  4. I don’t see how an investigation of a corrupt president can succeed now.

    Noel, Trump couldn’t lose his supporters. If he called for open borders tomorrow, told everyone his ppreferred pronoun was daisyX, he wouldn’t lose them. We’re just a few steps into this Saddam Hussein style of government, but the guys that love him do not care about Trump. They care only about their political opposition.

    It’s a mistake to fix blame on Trump. It really is. Yes, his pardon is dark, but what happened here is that education, politics, leaders, all compromised over and over and over and over. they got rich screwing around with our nation, and now a huge number of Americans hate them too much to see straight. Trump is the symptom, and I think even Trump had no chance without Russia shaping opinion. We need to consider what someone who exploits power like Trump could do if they were on the left. Trump definitely sees the power in bribing voters and confusing investigations. Someone could use student loan debts, criminal convictions, a million forms of dependency, and just end the wohle American experiment.

    We all need to admit our own role here. All partisans or former partisans. Folks like me, definitely folks like Biden. But the willpower to look inward isn’t there, and great nations do fall. In 30 years we will look back on 2020 as the root of the whole political landscape.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  5. I used to believe that the SC investigation of Russia had been thorough a well done. I believed that if there had been evidence of Trump and his campaign conspiring with Russia to win the 2016 election they would have found it. I was happy to accept their findings and conclude that the evidence didn’t support those reasonable suspicions.

    Based on the pardons I’m no longer confident of that. At this point I don’t think we can really know if he conspired with Russia or was just an unwitting beneficiary of Russia’s criminal attack.

    Time123 (9f42ee)

  6. I simply cannot believe the number of people who will do whatever the man says, which includes ignoring a legitimate election or even declaring martial law to outright overturn it. My guess is that number is nearing 30-40% of Americans. Just mind boggling.

    I am from a red state so I see it firsthand. He is the ultimate RINO with a following like I have never witnessed before. They may have been willing, but he brought them to the dance.

    noel (9fead1)

  7. … a following like I have never witnessed before.

    You must be young; see Goldwater and Reagan for details.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  8. 4.I don’t see how an investigation of a corrupt president can succeed now.

    ROFLMAO, you’re ong national nightmare is over, eh? Yes, my ‘Impeach With Honor’ T-shirt an my ‘Impooch With Honor’ dog food bowl go back into storage.

    Remember our motto: ‘Dick Nixon before he dick you. ” 😉

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  9. DCSCA, your lavish praise of Trump’s amazing leadership yesterday, and your ignoring his horrible corruption by referring to ficticious versions of Goldwater and Reagan, is definitely educational.

    If Trump shoots a man in the street today, you will say that’s OK, because of Iran Contra and Reaganomics. Indeed you will surely be very annoyed over future decades when this same defense mechanism works in reverse. What could biden or Kamala possibly do that doesn’t get a defense of ‘But look at Trump’s record!!!!’

    It’s time to forgive Reagan for whatever it is you imagine he did, much as folks need to forgive Jefferson Davis or Bill Ayers or George Bush. Not because it’s justified, unjustified, real, fake, but because it’s lowering the bar. It’s time to raise the bar, my friend.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  10. Paul Manafort earned tens of millions of dollars doing immoral and in many cases illegal things…

    The tell; ‘morality’ is a transient and a weak metric; lead w/illegal instead.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  11. 9. LOL Ficticious? You must be young.

    It’s time to forgive Reagan

    And Nixon and LBJ too??

    Never.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  12. Orin Kerr:

    Note sure which is more remarkable:
    That the President sees the pardon power as a way to reward his friends, or that the President has so many friends who need pardons.

    Paul Montagu (77c694)

  13. I think the worst of these pardons is for the Blackwater killers. Trump probably thinks it is a way of supporting the military. This goes back to Nixon and Lt. Calley.

    There’s not enough pushback on this idea that it good to “support the military” in this way. Trump did that for political reasons, not personal reasons, so if it was less popular, he wouldn’t do it.

    Manafort got pardoned now because Trump was defeated for re-election. You can draw some comfort that this means he’s planning to leave office.

    I did read something about the investigation of Manafort at one time not being pursued circa 2014.

    Even if not closed, it was not a priority until he got involved in politics. And the same thing or worse with Bernard Kerik. Only when he was nominated for Secretary of Homeland Security, and things came up in his FBI background investigation, and he withdrew, in part because of a nanny issue, did a full throated investigation of him begin.

    The Charles Kushner pardon is not so serious, since he finished his jail term 14 years ago, and he’s out of business. That’s why his son (and now other children) took over. There’s not much of an incentive for him to go back to the way he did things before. He’s probably already used to semi-retirement at least. And him having a personal connection to a president was a fluke.

    What you have to wait for is what is Trump going to do as noon on January 20 approaches? An interesting question is will he offer a pardon to Hunter Biden? And maybe Joe Biden, too, since he and Giuliani call him a crook. Joe Biden wouldn’t take it, I think, but pardons don’t require acknowledgment..

    The New York Times thinks the whole pardoning process needs to be reformed. There are not enough of them, they think. Most pardon petitions get sent to the Department of Justice where they get buried and the standards are too high.

    Still, they say, a president having unreviewable pardoning power is no good. They say a president should set up a process which he should adhere to, like having some office in the White House review clemency petitions.

    Sammy Finkelman (081278)

  14. If Trump shoots a man in the street today, you will say that’s OK, because of Iran Contra and Reaganomics.

    If/when he does, ask me. Otherwise, don’t try to put words in m mouth, Dustin.

    Lest you forget, Reagan pardoned Yankee owner George Steinbrenner. 😉

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  15. Paul Manafort was probably the only guy who deserves convictions for his crimes.

    However, DOJ had closed the Manafort investigation during the Obama Administration.

    It was resurrected by the SCO so they could use it for purposes of quickly gathering evidence with GJ subpoenas. There was no open GJ case in DOJ prior to the SCO being created…there’s documented evidence of that.

    Weismann is not only the hackiest hacks that ever stepped foot in the DOJ, he’s lying in his book to polish that turd that is the SCO.

    It’s absolutely disgraceful that anyone would take Weismann’s word on this.

    I mean, think about it for a bit. If there are active criminal investigations on Manafort while he was on Trump’s campaign, why didn’t the FBI warn Trump?

    That’s why Manafort’s pardon doesn’t bother me.

    Frankly, ANY presidential pardons doesn’t animate me as much anymore… history is replete with controversial pardons.

    whembly (c30c83)

  16. I had a perverse moment of curiosity….and headed over to RedState to see how they would cover and comment on the pardons. To this point, only one article by streiff…and uncritical readers doing their best to see, hear, or say no evil…with the party line being that those pardoned wouldn’t have been charged if it hadn’t been for unfair partisan opposition to Trump….of course studiously avoiding any and all details of what Manafort, in particular, actually was proven to have done. Sites like RedState are just about turning people into sheep…it’s blatant propaganda….couched as conservative thought…it’s intellectually dishonest….it’s sad…

    AJ_Liberty (ec7f74)

  17. DCSCA has been awaiting the destruction of the Conservative movement as established by Goldwater and as taken to triumph by Reagan. Trump got the job done in the way he was defeated in 2020. Now Trump may undo this work by deep sixing the Georgia senate races (and forcing the GOP to consider that Trump might make them a permanent powerless minority) But right now, things are going great for the DCSCA project. So no need to forgive anyone.

    I

    Appalled (1a17de)

  18. What could biden or Kamala possibly do…

    Look to what they’ve done already. The plagiarist-elect hs a record 50 years long; the luckiest woman in America, not so much. 😉

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  19. @17. Glorious. 😉

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  20. It’s time to forgive Reagan for whatever it is you imagine he did, much as folks need to forgive Jefferson Davis or Bill Ayers or George Bush.

    Worse than being wrong and obsessively repetitive about Reagan/Nixon/Goldwater, DC’s comments are boring.

    Paul Montagu (77c694)

  21. “You must be young; see Goldwater and Reagan for details.“
    _

    Don’t need to be very old to remember the following for the Messiah Obama (peace be upon him).

    The fact that it included 85% of news media was a hoot.
    _

    harkin (8fadc8)

  22. @21. Black humor- or jut humoring? 😉

    OTOH, clamor for that Reagan dime nd defacing Mt. Rushmore w/him still echoes, doesn’t it. 😉

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  23. @21. Black humor- or just humoring? 😉

    OTOH, clamor for that Reagan dime and defacing Mt. Rushmore w/him still echoes, doesn’t it. 😉

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  24. 4. Dustin (4237e0) — 12/24/2020 @ 10:12 am

    I think even Trump had no chance without Russia shaping opinion.

    5. At this point I don’t think we can really know if he conspired with Russia or was just an unwitting beneficiary of Russia’s criminal attack.
    Time123 (9f42ee) — 12/24/2020 @ 10:17 am

    I think Trump lost more than he gained from Russia, because the fact that Vladimir Putin favored him, and the Russian involvement in hacking in 2016 was not secret. And Russia didn’t create the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal: The House committee on Benghazi subpoena of State Department records did.

    I think neither alternative that Time123 mentions is correct. Trump did not conspire with Russia, or perhaps the way to put it is that Russia did not conspire with Trump, but Trump knew he was the intended beneficiary of help from Putin, and didn’t want to throw it away, although he probably also never thought it was worth all that much.

    Paul Manafort wanted to stay on Russia’s good side, and so he let them think he might become a spy or agent of influence, but all that he and Rick Gates ever gave or did for Russian intelligence, as far as we know, was share internal Trump campaign polls, and that was probably a selling job, to convince Russia they could win, so that Putin would not switch sides. And he probably did this without telling Trump because Trump is not one to readily disclose secrets.

    Mike Flynn was probably much more of a Russian agent and maybe still could be. I don’t know enough to guess how that might work.

    Placing a mole or two in the White House would have been Putin’s greatest reason for supporting Trump.

    Now, who recommended Mike Flynn to Donald Trump? That is the question.

    Sammy Finkelman (081278)

  25. 15. whembly (c30c83) — 12/24/2020 @ 10:55 am

    If there are active criminal investigations on Manafort while he was on Trump’s campaign, why didn’t the FBI warn Trump?

    Because they didn’t trust Trump. That’s maybe not a god answer.

    As for Manafort it sounds like he should have been prosecuted before 2016 – but so should maybe two dozen other people, and the people in the Department of Justice weren’t in the habit of doing that for complex white collar crimes. Maybe because most of them wanted to be defense lawyers one day.

    Sammy Finkelman (081278)

  26. @9. Postscript. You need to understand the struggle between the corporatist mentality and the swamp creature mind set. The electorate wants to see Executive action. There’s hard data on this and the pattern has been growing for years. You’re just hung up on the immediacy of the persona. People weren’t all that fond of Patton but he kicked ass and got things done.

    Biden and Trump tipped their POV on this briefly in the last debate. The swamp creature will make excuses for why he can’t get things done within the framework of exist in boundaries. The corporatist works the problem, pushes those boundaries– or goes around them- and makes it happen. It’s not always pretty. But 74-plus million supported it – a larger tally than the last cycle. It’s a fascinating development long in coming. Another corporatist will pick up the ‘Trump’ message banner in a cycle to come. But the pattern is there.

    “You got four hours to break through that beachhead down there. If you don’t make it by then, I’ll fire you!” – George Patton [George C. Scott] ‘Patton’ 1970

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  27. Trump has issued 94 pardons and commutations:

    68 of the 94 (72%) advance his political agenda;
    40 of 94 (43%) recipients had a personal connection to the President;
    20 of the 94 (21%) had some sort of celebrity status;
    86 of the 94 (88%) had some sort of personal or political connection to the President;
    7 of the 94 (7%) appear to have been recommended by the DOJ Office of the Pardon Attorney.

    Source

    Rip Murdock (80e6b4)

  28. If/when he does, ask me. Otherwise, don’t try to put words in m mouth, Dustin.

    I’m not putting words in your mouth. I’m reading your argument. Your argument is that it is OK that Trump has pardoned an obvious traitor because Iran Contra happened. That this argument happens to line up perfectly with Trump’s own boast of how loyal his supporters are actually validates that you believe what you say. You keep telling us to wake up. Wake up.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  29. Harkin correctly notes Obama got a pass all the time from his devoted supporters.

    This is an argument in support of my position that we need to raise the bar, and stop defending one side by citing that the other side did something bad. I know this isn’t a new argument and I know it’s not a very cunning or brilliant argument. It’s just an obvious, basic bit of common sense. If we want better we need to ask for better. By constantly defending crap on our side, we give the other side the chance to defend crap on their side, and on and on. I did it in 2004-6. Everyone here does it. People are joiners and we all seek a tribe. We didn’t get to Trump instantly. We crept here and Russia saw an opening and took it, jeopardizing the whole cause of democracy (which is the cause of peace, btw).

    We don’t have a choice here. It will keep getting worse until we wake up.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  30. DCSCA —

    You use the term corporatist incorrectly. Corporatist is sort of cousin of fascism, but isn’t quite. Something like the NRA in FDR’s new deal.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporatism

    Trump’s haphazard management style has very little to do with true corporatism. You seem to define it as a bias towards a President making dramatic decrees. Prexys have been doing that regularly since Teddy Roosevelt.

    Appalled (1a17de)

  31. @30. Nonsense. The term is an accurate fit and the data supports it. This has been building for decades. It was inevitable that one of the major parties would nominate a corporatist, w/no previous elected office experience, who would win the top spot as their initial elected office. Others will follow in cycles to come. But the contrast to the electorate between the corporatist mentality and the swamp creature mind set will be vivid and stark w/t plagiarist-elect’s stew and his salt-and-pepper seasoning. The ranks of those 74-plus million will grow.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  32. Paul Manafort was probably the only guy who deserves convictions for his crimes.

    However, DOJ had closed the Manafort investigation during the Obama Administration.

    It was resurrected by the SCO so they could use it for purposes of quickly gathering evidence with GJ subpoenas. There was no open GJ case in DOJ prior to the SCO being created…there’s documented evidence of that.

    Weismann is not only the hackiest hacks that ever stepped foot in the DOJ, he’s lying in his book to polish that turd that is the SCO.

    What a load of horseshit. I am tempted to ban you for this. It’s misinformation on a post that corrects exactly the lie you just told.

    This comment of yours is flatly false. What is your support for your claim? My support is a book written by the prosecutor who prosecuted Manafort, who, if he were lying, could easily be corrected by any number of people.

    Document your false statement or retract it. I’m moderating you now so that you can make no further comments until you do one or the other. I do not appreciate having my site being used to spread misinformation like this.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  33. DCSCA

    1. The trend you note — an increase in the use of executive actions — is very real. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be, but it is real. I think Trump reduced it to a tv-level of cartoonishness. Which a tv-reality star would do.

    2. The word you use is wrong. Corporatism means a specific thing in government, and what you are describing just isn’t it. In fact, I think it is a deceptive term. The CEO rarely pounds his fist and make a decision in a corporation. It’s a much more collaborative and bureaucratic process in your typical Fortune 500. Now, since Trump’s company is family owned, the pound of fist probably does reflect the decision making he was able to do at his company.

    3. I think you are right about celebrity outsiders continuing to invade politics. I can’t think why any of that is positive. Ventura, Schwarzenegger and Trump all stunk as political executives.

    Appalled (1a17de)

  34. DCSCA, where are you getting your “data”? Are you a sociologist, dispassionately studying political dynamics…or is this a massive act of confirmation bias and seeing what you want to see?

    I can understand how political gridlock makes people frustrated…enough to consider cutting corners in the Constitutional process and preferring an “energetic” executive who pushes on the boundaries. And I also understand how Trump’s language might persuade people that his rule and norm breaking is only because he really wants to get things done…and that the deck is stacked against him. the “energetic” executive must then stay at all costs or else everything is rolled back and the frustration (pushed by compliant media) builds.

    The problem is that this is not the Constitutional process….rule by executive order….with hints of Messianic complex. Building clear consensus with a healthy dose of compromise is the hallmark of our system…with checks and balances…and minority rights. Corporatism doesn’t work in this system. The President is not the CEO….he still needs to persuade a Congress that has its own priorities and agenda….and play within the rules dictated by the Courts. Much of the 74M simply hate the other side more than they love Trump or his style…..soon they will love someone else new who will sell a different politics….like Gov Haley. Trump was a perfect storm, not some building tidal wave towards authoritarianism. I would re-look at your “data”….

    AJ_Liberty (ec7f74)

  35. @34. Have mentioned this before. Did an extensive thesis on this; we researched the data for 18 months; it was objective, valid and fascinating. From the beginning of the Republic into the late 70s, [though incredibly dry and tedious] using the Congressional Record as the source data base. Long story short, the trends emerging in the 20th century indicated a steady rise in the corporatists as initial elected office holders on most levels, local a national. The projections- extrapolations etc.,- graphed out indicated one of the major parties would nominate a winning candidate w/no previous elected office experience to the top spot as their intiial elected office by 2000. Trump won in 2016. The genesis for the study was John Heinz, ketchup heir businessman turned politician, who ran for the Senate in Pennsylvania to replace Hugh Scott. At the time, his campaign spent roughly $20/$25 per vote to win a Senate seat– which was an extraordinary amount in 1976 dollars. We wondered why– which in discussions led to questions about campaign financing, the rise of corporatists vs., lawyers, or other professions seeking political office- [like actors] as the baseline of the study. The experience transition over 200 years of the Republic really was interesting to trace as the country transitioned from an agrarian to an industrialized society.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  36. @33. The term is valid. More interesting will be the next corporatist who picks up the Trump banner. But the struggle will remain between the corporatist mentality and the swamp creature mind set. Government, by design, is not structured to operate as a corporatist would prefer. So the battle will be whether the corporatist w/just the proper temperament adapts to the swamp creature structure or the swamp creatures adapt to the corporatist methodology. We witnessed the sparks flying w/Trump pushing the envelope and boundaries or going around them. Sometimes it was cheered- other times booed. Yet support for it grew, as the vote tally showed between cycles. The real losers in this are ideologues on either side; they inhibit action. And the data shows the support for ‘executive action’ sans ideology has grown. People want stuff done. The contrast will be the more ‘traditional’ swamp boundaried Biden. Both have valid POVs. So we’ll see how the 74-plus million react in time. But it is fascinating.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  37. @33. re- #3.That’s relatively new w/respect to the mediums in use but over the history of the Republic various higher ‘profiled’ “famed” individuals sought office, as was revealed in that study; writers, public speakers, frontiersmen, aviators, actors, astronauts etc., at many levels as the country grew. It moved w/t changes in society over time. The shift from farmers to lawyers to the business/corporatist types spiked post Civil War in the late 19th century were the most significant as it grew steadily into the 20th century. Fascinating stuff- at least to me. But where we’re at now just didn’t happen overnight. It has been trending for decades.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  38. True story. One time I dropped a dollar into the cup of a street musician playing the recorder and another passerby, a total stranger, yelled at me for it: “What did you give him money for? He’s just a bum!”

    Maybe it’s the Christmas season, maybe it’s because I am in a “F**k The Government” frame of mind this week, but the only pardon that bothers me is that of the Blackwater thugs. Even Mob hitmen do not kill women and children. As for the others, the reason clemency exists is to spite the law. Logic too.

    BTW, our old friends, Ramos and Compean, whose sentences 43 had already commuted, were two of the pardon recipients.

    nk (1d9030)

  39. DCSCA, thanks for the additional details…I will ponder more after my workout

    AJ_Liberty (ec7f74)

  40. A couple weeks ago, the NYT revealed that one of Sidney Powell’s sooper seekret military intelligence experts was actually a truck mechanic.

    Now another of the affiants in Powell’s Supreme Court appeals, who was supposedly a military intelligence professional, turns out to be a pro-Trump podcaster, who spent less than a year in the navy before washing out.

    But it gets much better. This chick has been falsifying her professional credentials, claiming to be an oncologist, a “crypto-linguist” and a veteran combat pilot, for decades. And on top of everything else, she’s Greek.

    Read the whole story – it’s an amusing illustration of the type of vermin a steaming turd like Donald Trump attracts.

    Dave (1bb933)

  41. A Greek-sounding (emphasis on “sounding”) name does not a Greek make.

    nk (1d9030)

  42. I encourage Trump to pardon everyone who has information that could hurt him. That way they can be compelled to testify against him later, and can only defend him with future perjury, for which they are not pardoned.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  43. I don’t see how an investigation of a corrupt president can succeed now.

    Why not? All a judge has to do is make Manafort answer questions truthfully or spend however long it takes in jail to get him to do so. The rest of Trump’s lifetime seems reasonable. He cannot take the 5th regarding anything he’s been pardoned for, and perjury is a crime still. If he claims that there are other crimes of his that might come to light, immunize him for those and make him talk.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  44. Some kind of constitutional reform has to happen, or the pardon power will come to be seen for all time as little more than another tool for presidents to remain above the law.

    If you read the Convention notes, the idea that a criminal president could pardon all his minions was a heated topic for debate in 1787, particularly with respect to the crime of treason. There were a few delegates who did not sign the Constitution in part due to this dispute.

    Alexander Hamilton discussed the pardon directly in Federalist #74.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  45. an amusing illustration of the type of vermin a steaming turd like Donald Trump attracts.

    steaming vermin turds:

    House Republicans Block $2,000 Coronavirus Stimulus Checks, Defying Trump

    Trump demanded Congress increase direct payments in the COVID-19 relief bill from $600 to $2,000. Speaker Pelosi happily obliged. Republicans blocked it.

    Merry Christmas, suckers.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  46. If I had to bet, I would think that defense attorneys are more favorable to an unfettered pardon power than prosecutors.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  47. As far as Trump’s misuse of the pardon power is concerned, that does not mean it should be curtailed. It means that we should not elect criminals to the Presidency.

    Again, Trump happened because those people who should have been taking care of their country’s people forgot to do their job, and became so obsequious towards certain of their constituents that a large portion of the others were repeatedly screwed.

    Populism is a corrective force that only occurs when people who usually want nothing to do with politics are force to get out in the street. It is a blunt instrument, and this time it was blunter than usual. The only way to put it down is to govern better going forward.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  48. Kevin, suppose Manafort invokes his fifth amendment right in that situation. How can a judge prove it’s only for the things Trump pardoned him for? Manafort’s not going to cooperate too much with such an inquiry, and he could fear state charges, or charges for crimes he hasn’t completed.

    Biden could pardon Hunter Biden on day one and I’m not sure the GOP could say much about it. And while Biden plays a good grandpa with ice cream, he’s been around the swamp his whole life and he got to the top of it. He sees the latitute Trump is creating for him. Lots of even more cynical folks see it too. There’s just no way to use federal power to investigate crooked presidents now.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  49. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aIf0G2PtHo

    December 24, 1968.

    What moment to experience;
    what a time to be alive;
    what a wonder to be able to relive it every Christmas Eve.

    History: no fables.

    And that’s the way it is…

    Merry Christmas

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  50. Merry Christmas, DCSCA and everybody else. I’m certainly having a great one, but there’s nothing silent about it.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  51. “Anyone who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”…..Voltaire

    Bowling Alone (27d313)

  52. Good thread by Jack Goldsmith on how Trump, in trademark Trumpian fashion, has broken the mold of pardon-related norm trashing. Trump obviously isn’t the first president to abuse the pardon power — *cough*Marc Rich*cough* — but as Goldsmith says, “Other presidents have occasionally issued abusive, self-serving pardons based on insider connections. Almost all of Trump’s pardons fit that pattern. What other presidents did exceptionally, Trump does as a matter of course.” And his fans yawn.

    lurker (d8c5bc)

  53. His fans don’t *yawn*, they *cheer*.

    aphrael (4c4719)

  54. I wonder if we could get bipartisan agreement on this. I feel that most presidential pardons in the final month are corrupt, and have been as long as I can remember, regardless of whether I mostly liked the president or not. I suspect it’s one thing that people who disagree with me on most everything else might agree on.

    Not saying that Trump’s aren’t orders of magnitude worse, by the way. But if any of his supporters want to say “what about X?” I will likely agree and say, yes, let’s stop them all from doing it.

    LYT (b89070)

  55. You;d need a constitutional amendment – and what would it be?

    Perhaps a group of people that by a 2/3 vote within 30 days of the pardon, could nullify a pardon.

    And also a one third plus one vote before the pardon make it irrevocable, in case it was needed to exchange spies or free hostages, if you wanted to do that.

    What group? And how many? Let’s say 15 people – anything bigger tends to split into subcommittees.

    Maybe make it a rotating group of Governors?

    Sammy Finkelman (081278)

  56. Not ones from Illinois I hope, Sammy…back scratching and paying it forward galore.

    urbanleftbehind (a6c8cb)

  57. Just elect a decent human being for President. Not a New York sewer rat. Rats will find their way into everything, no matter how solidly you think you’ve sealed something.

    urbanleftbehind mentioned Illinois. The governor has plenary clemency power but clemency petitions have to go through the parole board, after all legal remedies are exhausted. I know. I’ve done it. Most states are like that.

    Texas is an exception. It places all clemency except a 30-day stay by the governor in the hands of the parole board. Political appointees with no accountability. Shuck that fit.

    In the federal system, the DOJ has the office of the Pardon Attorney, a Senate-confirmed position. Presidents have been following its recommendations with rare exceptions, like lurker pointed out above. It’s the orange sewer rat who just slithered around it.

    nk (1d9030)

  58. 56. I said a group of Governors.

    My off the cuff idea for a possible constitutional amendment that would prevent these kinds of bad pardons was for say 15 of them, who would stay, say, for 6 months each and then be replaced by another group of governors.

    The Governor of Illinois, in this scenario would not be able to OK in advance, or refuse to override, a presidential pardon. Six out of 15 would be needed. Six out of 15 to okay in advance, and 30 days after a non-okayed pardon for 10 out of 15 to reverse.

    nk is right about needing the right people in office,

    One thing: These days Governors are terribly afraid to grant pardons, lest someone do something terrible afterwards.

    Sammy Finkelman (081278)

  59. nk @ 57.

    Illinois. The governor has plenary clemency power but clemency petitions have to go through the parole board, after all legal remedies are exhausted. I know. I’ve done it.

    Is that the standard procedure, or the only possible procedure?

    Sammy Finkelman (081278)

  60. It’s the standard procedure. Legally, the governor can bypass the parole board or ignore its recommendation just like the President can with the DOJ Pardon Attorney, but the last one who did it, and in a big way too by commuting all death sentences, went to prison (for being crooked in other ways).

    nk (1d9030)

  61. 44. The pardoning power is not being using for the purposes that Alexander Hamilton mentioned:

    Humanity and good policy conspire to dictate, that the benign prerogative of pardoning should be as little as possible fettered or embarrassed. The criminal code of every country partakes so much of necessary severity, that without an easy access to exceptions in favor of unfortunate guilt, justice would wear a countenance too sanguinary and cruel.

    Prosecutors have some discretion, but the pardon power has been bureaucratized in practice.

    Sammy Finkelman (081278)

  62. His fans don’t *yawn*, they *cheer*.

    Yes, I do cheer for it as I also cheer for dumb decisions made by the electorate, because the remedy for this “problem” is much worse. What do you propose as a reform? Let’s hear the details.

    Restricting a president’s pardon powers means enhancing the powers of prosecutors to engage in partisan political takedowns. No thanks.

    I’d rather see a government endangered by a corrupt, self-serving, elected president than corrupt, self-serving, unelected “independent” prosecutors.

    beer ‘n pretzels (042d67)

  63. The only restriction I’d like to see would be to remove it starting a week before election day in presidential election year. It returns on Jan 20.

    Davethulhu (95ea9f)

  64. I may be wrong but I think the Texas Governor has the pardon power in criminal cases (except treason and impeachment) “on the written signed recommendation and advice of the Board of Pardons and Paroles,” nk. He can also take action in treason cases but only if the Legislature consents.

    DRJ (aede82)

  65. Bnp, I think you have a point but why is your only choice between corrupt prosecutors and corrupt presidents?

    DRJ (aede82)

  66. Trump also pardoned Stephanie Mohr.

    DRJ (aede82)

  67. On the other side of the equation, Andy Cuomo just pardoned a bunch of illegal aliens and convicted murderers.

    NJRob (eb56c3)

  68. You’re right, DRJ.

    nk (1d9030)

  69. “New Snake Species Found Hiding in Plain Sight”

    That headline from CNN this morning made me think. Is that not a great metaphor – for the whole Trump presidency.

    noel (9fead1)

  70. I am not Mr. Trump’s biggest fan, but after reading the actual CNN article and comparing it to the clickbait headline I see it more as a metaphor for the #FakeNewsMedia.

    nk (1d9030)

  71. Trump did most of it right out in the open. Encourage foreign interference in elections, disparage minorities, support the Confederacy and lie, lie, lie. Demand opponents be jailed. Now, on to pardoning cronies and overthrowing an election.

    The metaphor. It fits.

    noel (9fead1)

  72. Trump is the rat but the sewer pre-existed him.

    nk (1d9030)

  73. Lemme give you an example.

    Two of the people Trump pardoned were Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean. Thanks to DRJ, and it bears repeating, thanks to DRJ, few people know the case better than old readers of this site.

    According it to CNN now, the two agents shot an unarmed immigrant and tried to cover it up. Mostly false.

    It was a Mexican drug smuggler. Eight hundred pounds of marijuana. In a van. They chased him in a high speed chase to the Rio Grande. He abandoned the van and they chased him on foot. They caught up to him. They tried to wrestle him to the ground. He fought them off, among other things blinding one officer temporarily by throwing sand in his eyes. He swam across the river. They fired at him but he got away into Mexico. The van and marijuana were left behind. Some days later he contacted his American cousin saying he had been shot by the border agents.

    nk (1d9030)

  74. Lets’s look at just that one example. He tried to get his predecessor and opponents arrested for treason. Obama, Clinton and Biden.

    If a President was discovered to have done so in secret, in ordinary times, its revelation would have exceeded the worst of Watergate. By far.

    How will history judge such craziness? There is nothing that compares.

    He is that snake.

    noel (9fead1)

  75. I prefer sewer rat. I am not defending Trump. My criticism of the #FakeNewsMedia is not a defense of Trump. There are many reasons to want him gone, and one of them is to clear the orange fog that keeps us from seeing the other snakes that infest our country.

    nk (1d9030)

  76. Obama, Clinton & Biden

    He tried to get him arrested.
    He tried to get her arrested.
    He tried to get him arrested.

    Arrested!

    Someone… please… give me a comparison.

    noel (9fead1)

  77. And now, my friends, back to my usual Christmas cheer.

    noel (9fead1)

  78. Someone… please… give me a comparison.

    Period poverty? The cis-hetero-patriarchal misogynist conspiracy that has tormented women persons who menstruate for two million years? It’s sh!t like this that gave us Trump, noel, but unfortunately he was not the solution, he was the maggot feasting on the gangrenous flesh.

    nk (1d9030)

  79. whembly has a word salad in moderation. I asked him to back up his claim or retract it. He certainly did not back it up (to the surprise of no sensible person) but he did not retract it clearly. So it, and he, will remain in moderation. I want a retraction because his assertion is wrong and he is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  80. I believe I have shown that I do not want my site used to spread made up garbage and I will ban people who insist on doing so.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  81. I fully support our gracious host’s decision; but not just the action of his decision, but the reason behind it. I say this because I know that you are a good man who struggles to do what is right in the sight of the Lord.

    felipe (630e0b)

  82. Interesting Weissman interview. The prosecutors intentionally sought (and got) civil and criminal forfeiture penalties in order to prevent Manafort from getting his money back in the event of a pardon.

    DRJ (aede82)

  83. There might have been an argument he should get his money back for criminal penalties if his criminal conviction was pardoned. He has no claim for civil forfeiture.

    DRJ (aede82)


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