Trump’s shopping basket of presidential pardons is piling high and catching attention, primarily for the celebrity and symbolism of who he’s pardoned rather than the sheer volume.
• So far, President Trump has pardoned Sherriff Joe Arpaio, Kristian Saucier (a Navy sailor whose sentence Trump blamed on Hillary Clinton), Scooter Libby, and boxer Jack Johnson.
• Now, Trump has promised a pardon to radically-conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza and hinted at pardoning (and commuting the sentence of) Martha Stewart and jailed Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Duke Chronicle: The Chronicle’s Editorial Board slammed Trump’s decision to pardon Sherriff Joe Arpaio: “the message that this pardon sent is so flagrantly distasteful.”
• The Chronicle notes a correlation between Trump’s panic and this decision, which was “imminent and unavoidable when considering his dipping poll ratings and flurry of set-backs.”
• The piece highlights Trump’s use of the pardon not to correct legal mistakes but to settle political scores and curry favor
Yale’s political review (The Politic): Arka Gupta hones in on Obama’s use of the presidential pardon.
• He immediately noting his “granting clemency to a total of 1715 inmates throughout his presidency, more than any other U.S President.”
• He credits the pardons as an extension of consistent policy to forgive disproportionate sentences of “unfairly imprisoned individuals, focusing on non-violent drug offenders.”
NYU's Washington Square News: Evan Robinson bashes the “erratic nature of the Trump administration.”
• He discusses Michael Flynn’s decision to plead the 5th rather than incriminate himself in the Russia Investigation.
• He finally urges his peers to “elect a man or woman who meets the level of “fitness” that the Office the President requires.”
The Bottom Line:
Students have largely been Trump-averse, which may help color the negative reactions to his pardons. They frame these decisions as efforts to appeal to his base and possibly serve as a foundation to pardon more consequential figures, including those involved in the Mueller probe. The celebrity of those pardoned has forced the pardons into the mainstream conscious, which naturally numbs our shock and awe in a way that may be helpful to the President as the Russia Investigation spills further into the court of public opinion.