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Politics Possible pardons loom for former Trump aides

18:25  09 december  2019
18:25  09 december  2019 Source:   politico.com

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  The Eight Counts of Impeachment That Trump Deserves During Watergate, the House Judiciary Committee considered five articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon — and voted down two of them. During the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the House voted on four articles — and rejected two. That history serves as a reminder that impeachment is not a neat process. During Watergate, the House Judiciary Committee considered five articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon — and voted down two of them. During the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the House voted on four articles — and rejected two.

President Trump ’s lawyers recently urged him not to even consider pardons for former aides targeted in the Russia investigation like Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman who was convicted The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is investigating possible pardon offers to former aides , and Mr

Office of the Pardon Attorney. Search All Pardons and Commutations.

Roger Stone’s supporters are making a pardon pitch everywhere President Donald Trump looks: Fox News, InfoWars, Twitter, even the White House driveway.

Roger Stone et al. standing in front of a crowd: Former Trump adviser Roger Stone.© Win McNamee/Getty Images Former Trump adviser Roger Stone.

Michael Flynn abruptly hired a bombastic lawyer who spouts Trump-friendly theories about FBI duplicity that are widely seen as a pardon play.

Paul Manafort has kept himself on Trump’s radar from behind bars in a federal penitentiary by feeding the president’s personal attorney a conspiracy theory that Ukraine, and not Russia, interfered in the 2016 campaign.

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  GOP governor pardons alligator hunter who beheaded ex-lover and stuffed her into barrel Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin recently pardoned a man who was convicted of murdering a woman whom had recently ended their affair. © (AP Photo/John Minchillo) Kentucky Gov. Mark Bevin speaks before the arrival of President Trump during a rally at the Kentucky Exposition Center, Monday, March 20, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. Bevin, who lost his reelection bid to Democrat Andy Beshear last month, had issued several controversial pardons and commutations during his final days in office. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.

Former Trump campaign aide , Sam Nunberg, speaks out on the Mueller probe and why President Donald Trump “needs to fire” his white house counsel » Subscribe

President Trump has officially pardoned in full I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby was convicted in 2007 of

In any other administration, and in any other time, it’d be shocking to consider that three men with such deep personal ties to the president might get their legal troubles expunged in an election year — not to mention from a president facing impeachment proceedings.

But this is not any other administration.

The clemency calculations come because Stone, Flynn and Manafort — all former Trump campaign aides — know the president has repeatedly proven willing to trample over his own advisers despite warnings of political consequences. Most recently, Trump cleared the records of three armed services members accused or convicted of war crimes over the objections of several of his top military brass.

“Like everything else with this president, you can’t look to history for precedent,” said a person who previously worked for President Trump. “If he felt Manafort and Flynn and others were deserving of pardons, he’d just do it.”

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  Matt Bevin, Ousted in Kentucky, Sets Off Furor With ‘Extreme Pardons’ Delmar Partin was convicted of strangling a woman and stuffing her body in a barrel. Micah Schoettle was sent to prison after a middle schooler testified that he had repeatedly sexually assaulted her, starting from the time she was 9. Patrick Baker was found guilty of killing a man and impersonating a United States marshal during a robbery. All three men walked out of prison this week after Kentucky’s outgoing governor, Matt Bevin, issued more than 400 pardons and commutations during the final days of his administration.His actions set off a controversy that continued to ripple across the commonwealth on Friday, days after Mr.

(13 Apr 2018) U.S. President Donald Trump has issued a full pardon to I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby is

Trump is telling aides that he is now strongly considering pardoning Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old woman Trump entered the White House expecting to have few limits on his power – envisioning the And McGahn has also argued against the possible pardon as an unnecessary action by the

Trump got involved in the military cases after being lobbied not only by lawmakers but Fox News personalities who spotlighted their stories. It’s a tactic employed repeatedly by people seeking pardons or prison-sentence commutations. Earlier in the Trump administration, Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza and George W. Bush White House aide Scooter Libby saw their prospects for presidential mercy take off thanks to well-connected allies and conservative cable TV segments highlighting complaints about how they’d been mistreated inside the federal justice system.

In Trump’s White House, few of his top aides see pardons for the likes of Stone, Flynn or Manafort as a good idea, at least not until after Election Day 2020. There are still scars from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, which concluded with a 448-page report that featured an obstruction of justice section detailing several conversations and public statements about pardons for former Trump aides involving the president and his personal lawyers.

'Completely inappropriate': McConnell doesn't 'approve' of Gov. Bevin controversial lame duck pardons

  'Completely inappropriate': McConnell doesn't 'approve' of Gov. Bevin controversial lame duck pardons Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell derided Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin for several controversial pardons and commutations."Honestly, I don't approve. It seems to me it was completely inappropriate. I respect he had the power to do it, but looking at the examples of people who were incarcerated as a result of heinous crimes, no, I don't approve of it," McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, said while addressing reporters on Friday.

Several Trump campaign aides , including one who went on to work at the White House, have been accused of serious crimes uncovered amid a federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which includes investigating possible collusion between Trump 's campaign and the Kremlin.

Trump has not followed the typical procedure for granting pardons , often choosing instead to bypass the Justice Department's Office of the Pardon Critics have raised the question of whether Trump is sending a signal to his former allies and aides who are facing criminal charges in special counsel

While Trump himself has been coy in recent months about any post-Mueller pardon plans, he’s been anything but shy when registering his disdain for the Russia probe and how it landed him, members of his family and so many other current and former staffers in considerable legal jeopardy.

Back in August 2018, the president wrote on Twitter that he felt “very badly” for Manafort on the morning after a Virginia jury convicted the former Trump campaign chairman on a series of financial fraud charges. This June, Trump praised Flynn when the former national security adviser who had already pleaded guilty and cooperated with Mueller’s investigators made a U-turn and hired Sidney Powell, an outspoken Mueller critic, as his new lawyer. “Best Wishes and Good Luck to them both!” the president tweeted. And Trump complained, just minutes after Stone’s conviction last month on charges of lying to Congress and witness tampering, because several of his own longtime adversaries — he named Hillary Clinton, James Comey and Adam Schiff, among others — weren’t facing the same kinds of criminal prosecutions.

'Completely inappropriate': McConnell doesn't 'approve' of Gov. Bevin controversial lame duck pardons

  'Completely inappropriate': McConnell doesn't 'approve' of Gov. Bevin controversial lame duck pardons Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell derided Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin for several controversial pardons and commutations."Honestly, I don't approve. It seems to me it was completely inappropriate. I respect he had the power to do it, but looking at the examples of people who were incarcerated as a result of heinous crimes, no, I don't approve of it," McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, said while addressing reporters on Friday.

President says ‘I have heard that he has been treated unfairly’, of aide who was convicted after investigation by special counsel appointed by James Comey.

A federal pardon in the United States is the action of the President of the United States that completely sets aside the punishment for a federal crime.

Despite the presidential airing of grievances, people who regularly speak with Trump say the looming impeachment proceedings have dominated conversations — not pardons. “I think the president is probably focused on other things at the moment,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican and outspoken Trump defender.

But Trump’s pardon calculations could very well change as a rapid-fire series of events unfold.

Stone is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 6 before U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, where he faces up to 50 years in prison. As a first-time offender, Stone’s punishment is expected to be significantly lighter. Still, prison is prison, and attempts to get the president’s attention have been coming from all directions to keep Stone — a longtime political adviser dating back to the early 1980s — a free man.

InfoWars host Alex Jones said he was relaying a direct message from Stone to Trump on his show the day before the jury reached its guilty verdicts. “He said to me, ‘Alex, barring a miracle, I appeal to God and I appeal to your listeners for prayer, and I appeal to the president to pardon me because to do so would be an action that would show these corrupt courts that they’re not going to get away with persecuting people for their free speech or for the crime of getting the president elected,’” Jones said.

Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s 428 pardons are upsetting both Democrats and Republicans

  Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s 428 pardons are upsetting both Democrats and Republicans Before leaving office, Bevin pardoned a number of people incarcerated for violent crimes, a decision Democrats slammed and Mitch McConnell called “completely inappropriate.”The decision has drawn criticism from both the left and the right, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling the pardons “completely inappropriate” and Beshear calling the pardon of Dayton Jones, who was convicted of raping a child “wrong.

President Donald Trump issued a full pardon Friday to I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney. Trump said he does not know Libby, but "for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly. Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life

The threat that Trump might pardon any one of these former aides is not an idle one. “ Perhaps more significantly, the New York Times recently reported that former Trump attorney John Dowd broached the possibility of Trump pardons for Manafort and Flynn with their respective lawyers last

a man wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a crowd© Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO

Just hours after Stone’s conviction, reporters filmed an unidentified man just outside the White House’s West Wing entrance blowing a giant horn and urging the president to give Stone “immunity.” That same night, Stone’s daughter Adria pleaded for the president’s intervention during a Fox News interview with Tucker Carlson. “Donald Trump, if you can hear me, please save our family,” she said.

Flynn’s fate, meantime, remains very much up in the air. The retired Army lieutenant general’s sentencing this month got postponed in anticipation of a Justice Department inspector general report about the intelligence community’s conduct during the Russia probe. While the report expected to be released Monday may not yield the thunderclaps Trump and his conservative allies have envisioned, Powell nonetheless says she expects it can produce additional evidence that would prompt the federal judge presiding in Flynn’s case to toss out her client’s guilty plea because of “egregious government misconduct.”

In light of Flynn’s new legal posture, the federal prosecutors who obtained his initial guilty plea have said they may revisit their initial recommendation to Judge Emmet Sullivan that he sentence Flynn to one year of probation instead of prison time. But their sentencing memo is now on hold until the IG report comes out — raising the prospect that Flynn may indeed need Trump’s help to stave off a more severe punishment.

“All we want is justice to be done as we know he committed no crimes and was set up,” Michael Flynn’s brother, Joseph, said in an email to POLITICO when asked about a potential Trump pardon. He added that Powell “has it well under control.. and we are extremely thankful she is in our lives.”

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In pardoning a former White House aide , Trump could be signaling to his own associates that they will be protected if they decline to participate with government investigators. Neither the White House nor Trump himself have ruled out pardons for campaign aides indicted in the Russia investigation

President Donald Trump pardoned I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby for lying to investigators probing the leak of a CIA officer identity, offering official forgiveness to a conservative figure whom supporters have argued was unfairly swept up in a politically charged special counsel’s investigation.

Manafort, meantime, still has about six years to go on his prison sentence, which also covers a series of lobbying and witness-tampering crimes. His allies have been less public in their attempts to win Trump’s help — a year-old petition on Change.org asking Trump to commute Manafort’s remaining time in jail has less than 1,000 signatures. But the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, confirmed to the Washington Post in October that he’d recently been in touch with the former Trump campaign chief as he presses ahead with a controversial campaign to pin the blame on Ukraine for meddling on Hillary Clinton’s behalf in the 2016 presidential election.

Republicans say Trump may also have running room on the pardon front should he successfully fend off impeachment early next year in the Republican-led Senate.

“For the president’s sake, he should be looking at the political implications,” said Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King. “I’d say for all the specious reasons that have been manufactured by the Democrats, they’d probably call that reasons number infinity-plus-one and infinity-plus-two to impeach the president. So, I’d say let’s get this through first and then take a look at those circumstances.”

For the most part, presidents before Trump tended to stay clear of controversial first-term pardons. President Barack Obama granted five pardons and one commutation in fiscal year 2012, according to clemency data compiled by the Justice Department. Bush granted 12 pardons and two commutations during fiscal year 2004 as he geared up for his reelection race. President Bill Clinton didn’t give any pardons or commutations in fiscal 1996, though the year before that he granted 53 pardons and commuted three sentences.

No doubt, the most famous example of a president suffering at the ballot box over a clemency decision involves Gerald Ford, who arguably lost his 1976 bid for a full term because of his decision to give former President Richard Nixon a pardon after his resignation due to the Watergate scandal.

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Since taking office as the 45th president of the United States on January 20, 2017, Donald Trump has granted executive clemency to a number of individuals as authorized under Article II

Paul Manafort standing in front of a car: WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 15: Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives at the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse for a hearing on June 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. Today a federal judge could rule on whether to revoke Manafort's bail due to alleged witness tampering. Manafort was indicted last year by a federal grand jury and has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him including, conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, and being an unregistered agent of a foreign principal.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)© Mark Wilson/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 15: Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives at the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse for a hearing on June 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. Today a federal judge could rule on whether to revoke Manafort's bail due to alleged witness tampering. Manafort was indicted last year by a federal grand jury and has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him including, conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, and being an unregistered agent of a foreign principal. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Lame-duck presidents have also gotten into hot water for exercising their pardon powers. Clinton faced significant scrutiny for issuing a pardon on his final day in office to Marc Rich, a fugitive international financier whose ex-wife had made donations to Democratic Party accounts and the Clinton Foundation. After losing his reelection bid to Clinton in 1992, President George H.W. Bush pardoned six former Reagan administration officials ensnared in the Iran-Contra scandal, including Caspar Weinberger, the defense secretary who was scheduled to go on trial in a case where Bush may have been implicated. The Bush pardons were backed by the attorney general at the time: William Barr.

While it might not be seen as politically savvy in the middle of an election year for Trump to pardon people like Stone, Flynn or Manafort, he has seen an advantage when getting involved in other high-profile cases that have been featured on Fox News and brought to his attention by allies.

Pete Hegseth, a Fox contributor, helped draw Trump’s interest to the latest military case, which culminated last month with full pardons for former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, who were convicted of war crimes, and allowed for chief petty officer Edward Gallagher, who was stripped of military honors during his prosecution on murder charges, to have his promotion reinstated.

Bernie Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner and himself a convicted felon, advocated for Gallagher. Tim Parlatore, Gallagher’s attorney, said Fox News and Hegseth should also be credited with presenting the case on Trump’s preferred cable channel. “Whether you believe Fox News or not, the president took the time to hear the other side of the story rather than just believing the Navy,” Parlatore said.

Over the weekend, Trump welcomed two of the pardoned men to the stage at a closed-door fundraiser in Florida.

Several other possible pardons that Trump hasn’t touched still remain on the president’s radar. Parlatore recently submitted Kerik’s name for a pardon that would wipe clean a criminal record from a 2009 guilty plea for tax fraud and false statement charges and a since-completed four-year prison sentence.

Then there’s the so-called “Blackwater Four,” a group of four security contractors who were convicted and jailed for a 2007 shooting in Baghdad in which 17 Iraqis died, as well as the case of a Marine sniper group photographed urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters in 2011.

Trump himself has maintained interest in two convicted cast members from his reality TV show “Celebrity Apprentice” — Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor convicted in 2011 for trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama, and businesswoman Martha Stewart, who served five months in jail in the mid-2000s for obstructing justice and lying to investigators about a stock sale.

Illinois’ House GOP delegation has urged the president to leave the Blagojevich case alone. But Trump is hearing both sides. The former governor’s wife has appeared multiple times on Fox asking for the commutation of the remainder of her husband’s 14-year jail sentence. At an October fundraiser in Chicago, Trump reportedly polled supporters about letting the government go free.

“I feel very badly. I think he was very harshly sentenced, but we're looking at it very strongly,” Trump told reporters in August. “People feel very strongly about Rod Blagojevich and his sentence.”

A spokesman for Blagojevich, Marc Vargas, said “the family is grateful to President Trump, and they remain hopeful that their 11-year nightmare might soon be over. As the president has said publicly, 14 years was a very harsh sentence — and thanks to the president, we are now seeing broad bipartisan support for the former governor’s release.”

Beyond the Mueller probe, Trump’s pardon powers have drawn scrutiny from Democrats. The House Judiciary Committee sent a subpoena this fall to the Homeland Security Department seeking documents about the president allegedly offering pardons to government officials who break the law while implementing his immigration agenda. Before abandoning his 2020 presidential bid, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke proposed a constitutional amendment banning presidents from pardoning anyone tied to an investigation involving the president, or for family members.

Democrats in the middle of the current impeachment probe said Trump would only make matters worse for himself if he pardoned any of the former aides ensnared in the Mueller probe.

“All of this is revolting,” said Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former Democratic National Committee chief ousted in 2016 over the release of hacked emails at the center of the Mueller probe.

Any Trump pardons to the Manaforts, Flynns and Stones of the world, she explained, “would add to the evidence of abuse of power from intimidating witnesses to trying to get a foreign country to investigate his political opponents for the next presidential election.”

Ultimately, several experts on pardons say that for all of Trump’s bravado and unpredictability they doubt he’d pull the trigger to grant the Mueller-tarred criminals any kind of clemency.

“One would think if his motivation was compassion for people who’d worked for him, he’d have done it already,” said Mark Osler, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas in Michigan.

Ken Gormley, president of Duquesne University, said Trump would likely open himself up to additional impeachment charges if he pardoned the former aides since they faced legal scrutiny in no small part because of their relationship with Trump.

“Recognizing that President Trump can make decisions that are unpredictable and surprise all of us, I’d be very surprised if any of these folks were pardoned at this time,” said Gormley, who testified in 2001 as a constitutional law professor when Congress examined Clinton’s last-minute pardons. “They just hit too close to home.”

Van Drew draws Democratic challenger amid plans to switch parties .
Rep. Jeff Van Drew has drawn his first Democratic challenger since moving over the weekend to switch political parties and become a Republican. © Greg Nash Van Drew draws Democratic challenger amid plans to switch parties Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University, announced on Monday that she would run to unseat Van Drew from his southern New Jersey congressional district in 2020 after he told aides that he planned to become a Republican following a White House meeting with President Trump.

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