THEIR VIEW: Pardon you, pardon me

Published on Thursday, 7 June 2018 21:01
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In August 2012, Dinesh D’Souza, a conservative author and polemicist, persuaded two people to make illegal campaign contributions to the U.S. Senate bid of New York Republican Wendy Long. This was no nickel-and-dime operation: D’Souza reimbursed two “straw donors” $10,000 each for making donations by themselves and their spouses. It was illegal because D’Souza had already reached the federal limit with his own contribution.

On May 20, 2014, D’Souza pleaded guilty in federal court to violating the federal election campaign law.

President Donald Trump pardoned D’Souza, claiming he “was very unfairly treated.” Trump has constitutional power to do this, and he is hardly the first president to grant clemency to an unsavory figure.

What is offensive here is not the pardon power, but the use of it.

Trump rewarded a man who consciously and brazenly violated the rules of the political system. In so doing he displayed open disdain for the courts, prosecutors and judges who identified D’Souza’s misdeeds and attempted to hold him to account.

The pardon is yet another worrisome indication of Trump’s disrespect for the U.S. justice system.

He has waged an intemperate and incessant campaign against the special counsel’s continuing investigation of his 2016 campaign. The pardon is a signal - indeed, a warning - that he can alleviate or overturn any punishment meted out as a result of the Russia probe. Trump also bypassed the rigorous process and standards, overseen by the U.S. pardon attorney, that thousands of others submit to in pursuit of clemency. This is Trump’s prerogative, but it suggests the pardon was arbitrary, political and unjustified.

What is at stake here is not legality, but democratic values. Trump conducts himself as chieftain of his own clan, not the protector of the rule of law for the nation as a whole.

The Washington Post

Posted in The Bristol Press, Editorials on Thursday, 7 June 2018 21:01. Updated: Thursday, 7 June 2018 21:44.