A federal judge on Monday castigated President Donald Trump over the recent succession of executive pardons that he has bestowed upon dozens of unsavory individuals, including war criminals, convicted murderers, corrupt politicians, and men who betrayed their country.
In an interview with the Associated Press, United States District Judge Robert Pratt of the Southern District of Iowa tore into Trump – whose final weeks in office are dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, scorched-earth policies, and sedition – for abusing his power to grant clemency.
“It’s not surprising that a criminal like Trump pardons other criminals,” said Pratt
“But apparently to get a pardon, one has to be either a Republican, a convicted child murderer, or a turkey,” the judge quipped.
Pratt was referring to Trump’s decision to vacate the convictions of people who demonstrated their loyalty to him, particularly during his double impeachment and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian attack on the 2016 presidential election.
Among those that have had their slates wiped clean by Trump are:
- Former Republican Congressmen Duncan Hunter (CA), who along with his wife Margaret was convicted of stealing campaign funds;
- Blackwater mercenaries that were convicted of killing innocent civilians in Iraq;
- Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during Mueller’s Russia probe;
- Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager who went to prison for tax crimes;
- Long-time Republican operative Roger Stone, who was convicted of seven felonies, including lying to Congress and witness tampering. Additionally, Trump commuted Stone’s 40-month prison sentence the day before it was scheduled to begin;
- Charles Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and top Oval Office aide Jared’s father, who went to jail for tax fraud.
Moreover, Trump pardoned “two former top aides to Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign, who were convicted in a corruption scheme related to the Iowa caucuses,” the Associated Press pointed out. “Trump last week pardoned Paul campaign chairman Jesse Benton and campaign manager John Tate, who were convicted at trial of concealing $73,000 in payments that went to state Sen. Kent Sorenson in exchange for Sorenson’s endorsement of Paul. Benton and Tate were sentenced to six months of home confinement and probation.”
Pratt “noted that the framers of the U.S. Constitution sought to stop U.S. officials from ‘enriching themselves’ while in office by banning gifts and payments from foreign powers,” AP wrote. “Ongoing lawsuits have accused Trump of illegally profiting off the presidency through his luxury Washington hotel. A White House spokesman declined to comment on Pratt’s remarks.”
Pratt also warned that “political corruption will slowly corrode the foundations of our democracy until it collapses under its own weight” if people are permitted to get away with exploiting the public trust for personal enrichment.
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.