President Trump granting clemency to his crony Roger Stone, who served as the go-between for the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, on practically the eve of Stone’s incarceration for multiple crimes attendant to his coverup on behalf of the president, is grotesquely corrupt but unsurprising. Stone virtually confessed to a quid pro quo, telling Howard Fineman, “He [Trump] knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him. It would have eased my situation considerably. But I didn’t.” Silence for clemency. A separate system of justice for the president’s henchmen. This is the very definition of corruption.
“By this action, President Trump abused the powers of his office in an apparent effort to reward Roger Stone for his refusal to cooperate with investigators examining the President’s own conduct,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) said in a written statement released Friday. “No other president has exercised the clemency power for such a patently personal and self-serving purpose.”
Stone’s clemency should remind all Americans of the necessity of removing Trump at the ballot box and seeking a full accounting of Attorney General William P. Barr’s role in running interference for the president (e.g., spinning the Mueller report, turning a blind eye toward criminality in the Ukraine scandal, intervening to block Stone’s and Michael Flynn’s punishments). It should remind voters that if not for the spinelessness of every Republican senator save Utah’s Mitt Romney, Trump would not have survived impeachment to seek vengeance on witnesses (e.g., Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman), corruptly protect his friends and incompetently manage a pandemic, leading to the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands. With the pardon of Stone, we can affirm that Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins’s assertion that he learned his lesson from impeachment was delusional.
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