Self-defense up close and personal
This story is the latest “hot button” 24-7 news cycle story from Trump – which seems to be his strategy: keep people off balance about him, his woes, and he issues – rather for the coverage he desires and wants favorable about him.
PURPOSE / GOAL OF PRESIDENTIAL PARDON POWER AND THE EXTENT OF PRESIDENTIAL POWERS INDEED:
HISTORICAL NOTE A QUESTION APROPOS TODAY:
These terms differ subtly from country to country, but generally clemency is a general concept of amelioration of penalties, especially by action of executive officials.
Those may take the following forms and include:
Amnesty: A pardon applied to a group of people rather than an individual, e.g., President Jimmy Carter offered amnesty to anyone who had evaded the draft during the Vietnam War. Also, a weapon amnesties are often granted so that people can hand in weapons to the police without any legal questions being asked. After a civil war (like we had) may have a mass amnesty granted to absolve all participants of guilt so the country can move on and note: Amnesties are typically applied in advance of any prosecution for the crime.
Commutation: Substituting the imposed penalty for a crime with a lesser penalty while the person in question still remains guilty of the original crime (e.g., someone who is guilty of murder may have their sentence commuted to life imprisonment rather than death, or the term of imprisonment may be reduced).
Remission: Complete or partial cancellation of the penalty, while the person still is considered guilty of the crime (i.e., reduced penalty). Also known as remand, the proceedings by which a case is sent back to a lower court from which it was appealed, with instructions as to what further proceedings should be had.
Reprieve: Temporary postponement of a punishment, usually so that the accused can mount an appeal (especially if he or she has been sentenced to death).
Respite: The delay of an ordered sentence, or the act of temporarily imposing a lesser sentence upon the convicted, whilst further investigation, action, or appeals can be conducted.
Expungement: The process by which the record of a criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed from the official repository, thus removing any traces of guilt or conviction.
Immunity from prosecution: A prosecutor may grant immunity, usually to a witness, in exchange for testimony or production of other evidence. The prosecutor conditionally agrees not to prosecute a crime that the witness might have committed in exchange for any new evidence (say for a bigger person to prosecute). For example, a car thief who witnesses a murder might be granted immunity for his crime as an inducement to identify, and perhaps to truthfully testify against the murder suspect.
Other immunity: Several other types of immunity are available, depending on the status of a person as a member of the government.
In the pardon power for federal crimes is granted to the President which states: The President shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”
The Supreme Court has interpreted this language to include the power to grant pardons, conditional pardons, commutations of sentence, conditional commutations of sentence, remissions of fines, forfeitures, respites, and amnesties.
Key Historical Pardons:
President Gerald Ford’s pardon of former President Richard Nixon on September 8, 1974, for official misconduct which gave rise to the Watergate scandal. (NOTE: Presidential pardons may be granted at any time. When Ford pardoned Nixon, Nixon had not yet been convicted or even formally charged with a crime – but in the face of such, Nixon resigned).
Andrew Johnson's sweeping pardons of thousands of former Confederate officials and military personnel after the Civil War,
Jimmy Carter's grant of amnesty to Vietnam-era draft dodgers,
George H. W. Bush's pardons of 75 people, including six Reagan administration officials accused or convicted in connection with the Iran–Contra affair,
Bill Clinton's commutation of sentences for 16 members of FALN in 1999 and his own brother.
George W. Bush's commutation of the prison term (but not the significant fine) of I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby was controversial re: the Valerie Plame CIA agent outing scandal.
Since George Washington presidents have, for the most part, voluntarily accepted restraints on their ability to pardon under those guidelines.
Starting in 1789, government lawyers have been designated to review pardon applications. And since 1865, presidents have typically relied on a review by the DOJ before granting clemency.
As noted: Trump so far, has sidestepped that process for example:
Of the five people he has announced pardons for, including D’Souza, just one had a pending clemency application at the Justice Department: former Navy sailor Kristian Mark Saucier, who was convicted in 2016 of unauthorized possession of classified data.
Saucier’s case got Trump’s attention because the sailor had used a so-called Clinton defense to argue that his acts were no worse than Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server when she was secretary of State.
Trump has seemed to act on impulse or at the urgings of friends and celebrities in making his clemency decisions. Three of his pardons have gone to people backed by his conservative political allies — D’Souza; Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County sheriff; and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney who was convicted in 2007 of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Actor Sylvester Stallone lobbied Trump to pardon Jack Johnson, the late African American boxer, who was convicted in 1913 on charges stemming from his sexual relations with a white woman.
And, more recently, Kim Kardashian visited Trump at the White House and urged him to pardon a woman sentenced to life in prison for a nonviolent drug charge, her first offense.
NOTEWORTHY: Another pattern is that Trump has seemed to favor clemency for people prosecuted by his nemeses, e.g., D’Souza was prosecuted by Preet Bharara, whom Trump fired as U.S. attorney in Manhattan.
Martha Stewart’s prosecution was directed by one of Bharara’s predecessors in that job, James B. Comey, whom Trump fired as FBI director.
Blagojevich’s prosecutor was Patrick Fitzgerald, a friend of Comey’s who also prosecuted Libby.
D’Souza pleaded guilty in 2014 to campaign finance fraud. Trump did not explain how D’Souza had been treated unfairly, but the White House, in a statement, said: “D’Souza was, in the president’s opinion, a victim of selective prosecution for violations of campaign finance laws.”
The federal judge in the case decided otherwise in 2014 when D’Souza raised that claim in court, saying D’Souza had “no evidence” for his contention. At D’Souza’s sentencing, the judge admonished him, saying, “It is still hard for me to discern any personal acceptance of responsibility in this case.”
D’Souza admitted to having illegally used straw donors, including a woman with whom he was having an affair and who has since become his wife, to contribute to a Republican Senate candidate in New York in 2012. He was sentenced to five years of probation, including eight months at a “community confinement center” in San Diego, and ordered to pay a $30,000 fine.
Bharara denied any political influence took place, tweeting that “the facts are these: D’Souza intentionally broke the law, voluntarily pled guilty, apologized for his conduct & the judge found no unfairness. The career prosecutors and agents did their job. Period.”
D’Souza fired back in a tweet later in the day saying: “Bharara wanted to destroy a fellow Indian American to advance his career. Then he got fired & I got pardoned.”