Given that Donald Trump treats the workplace of the presidency like a private branding instrument, and offers with adversity like a two-bit mafioso, this second was maybe predictable: the president is reportedly contemplating pre-emptively pardoning three of his kids, his son-in-law, and associates together with Rudy Giuliani. He has already pardoned or commuted the sentences of a number of of his associates and associates, which ought to elevate some eyebrows – why accomplish that many individuals who encompass this president wind up charged with against the law, in jail, or bracing themselves for legal costs? And why is the supposedly law-and-order “pro-life” Republican get together shrugging as this president excuses the criminality of his kin and his cronies whereas he refuses to intervene to save lots of anybody from execution – and in reality, is utilizing what little time he has left in workplace to reinstate barbaric practices like dying by firing squad?
Everyone knows Trump didn’t drain the swamp. However in his final two months in workplace, he’s sending a transparent message about who and what he and his get together worth. It’s not Christian mercy, or hard-nosed regulation and order, and even the sanctity of life. It’s energy, dominance and a thick line between two Americas: one related, white, power-hungry and lawless, and the opposite at its mercy.
As Trump’s time period winds down, the White Home is reportedly besieged with requests from lackeys and sycophants and hangers-on and D-list celebrities who all imagine the president could grant them a get-out-of-jail-free card (or, within the case of his kids and Giuliani, who haven’t been charged or convicted of any crimes, a get-out-of-ever-being-held-accountable card). Even the Tiger King has made his case to the president.
Many anticipate that the president will subject a flurry of pardons and commutations, and this largesse might be bestowed very similar to the measly 11 pardons and commutations he’s issued up to now: on individuals who labored for him, individuals who supported him, individuals may incriminate him and individuals who personally impress him (typically by way of actuality tv stars, as a result of we live within the worst of instances).
He’s granted clemency virtually solely to his associates, advisers, supporters and loyalists, with just a few warfare criminals and conservative cultural icons thrown in for good measure. The one individuals he has used his pardon energy to assist who fall outdoors that characterization are both well-known however long-dead historic figures and Alice Marie Johnson, who was serving a life sentence for a non-violent drug offense – and whose case he solely discovered about as a result of actuality tv star Kim Kardashian West introduced it to his desk.
What he largely hasn’t completed is use the presidential clemency energy for its highest goal: to appropriate critical injustice and act with compassion.
Regardless of touting himself as a president who has completed extra for legal justice reform than every other, the other is definitely true: Trump has refused to make use of his powers for good, and has been appalling harsh on those that have been over-sentenced. A number of individuals on federal dying row have appealed to the president for clemency – to not go dwelling, simply to not be killed by the state. To this point, Trump has ignored them. The listing of those that are nonetheless alive consists of Brandon Bernard, who was simply 18 when he joined a gaggle of associates for what he thought was going to be a carjacking and a theft; one in every of his associates ended up murdering the couple the group robbed, in a brutal act Bernard had not foreseen and was horrified by. At trial, Bernard’s lawyer, who had by no means argued a federal dying penalty case earlier than, barely mounted a protection and did not name necessary witnesses. A number of members of the jury that convicted him now say that he shouldn’t be executed. And there’s Lisa Montgomery, the one girl on federal dying row, who dedicated an terrible crime – she murdered a pregnant girl and stole her child – but additionally has a extreme and debilitating psychological sickness, and, her attorneys say, was psychotic when she dedicated that heinous crime.
Nobody is asking the president to pardon Bernard or Montgomery. They’re solely asking that he commute their dying sentences, relegating them as an alternative to life in jail, which is hardly a free cross. Whereas Trump considers pardoning his personal kids for no matter crimes he believes they’ve dedicated, he’s refusing to save lots of the lives of Bernard and Montgomery – though each of them are somebody’s baby, too.
And it’s even worse than that: that is solely a problem as a result of Trump’s lawyer basic, Invoice Barr, selected to convey again the federal dying penalty – he didn’t need to, and like a number of of his predecessors he may have chosen to not, however he made it a precedence to make use of the ability of his workplace to kill Individuals. Earlier than Trump took workplace, there hadn’t been a federal execution in almost twenty years. That modified beneath Barr – who claims, appallingly, to be “pro-life.” After greater than a 30-year interval with only a single federal execution (beneath George W Bush in 2003), within the little greater than a yr since July 2019, the federal authorities has executed eight individuals. They’re persevering with executions even after Individuals voted Trump out of workplace, one thing so extremely uncommon it hasn’t been completed since 1889.
And now that their days in energy are waning, the Barr justice division, apparently not content material with executing Individuals by deadly injection, goes an much more ugly route: they’re rapidly pushing by way of new guidelines that may permit the federal authorities to kill prisoners by way of electrocution and firing squad.
There’s no “humane” strategy to execute a human being. However there are actually symbolically vicious methods. And that’s what this administration is embracing because it continues its execution spree.
Trump’s utter lack of mercy isn’t significantly stunning. However it’s abhorrent and scandalous that he has ramped up his cruelty towards dying row inmates whereas concurrently abusing his energy to guard his relations and the varied legal toadies in his orbit. And it’s pathetic that Republicans don’t have anything to say about these excesses, whereas the “pro-life” teams that again the president have largely fallen silent. It appears all lives don’t matter in any case.
This president’s use of his clemency energy isn’t about justice or equity or regulation or order; it’s about defending criminals who work in his service, and it’s about as venal, wicked, and corrupt because it will get.