US, what a president does at the end of his term

When a president leaves the White House, he usually issues clemency measures. And so is Trump. Imagine if he let this opportunity escape him. And of course he is doing it in his own way.

Generally, when a prisoner is pardoned, a sentence commuted and a criminal record cleared, it is because there is a very precise story behind it. For example, people sentenced to very long sentences, because at the time of conviction, there was that law and after many years it has lost its value.

Then there are people who have started a new life, who have repented and become in some way an exemplary figure.

It is usually the Justice Department that advises the president on which people to pardon, but Trump has ignored its recommendations.

Who wants to pardon

The people Trump is pardoning or whose sentences he is commuting, don’t have that kind of history.

The only thing they have in common is they are almost all his friends, allies, relatives and supporters. There are Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, George Papadopoulos and Alex van der Zwaan, who had pleaded guilty in the Russiagate investigation, the criminal effects of which have now been dropped. There are three former Republican Party congressmen convicted of bribery, embezzlement and insider trading. There are four war criminals convicted of massacring civilians in Iraq.

The man

And there’s the man. Charles Kushner, father of Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s husband. Kushner, who was pardoned. He was a New Jersey real estate developer who had major legal problems at the beginning of this century. In 2004, after pleading guilty, he was convicted of 18 counts, including tax evasion, false tax returns, illegal political donations and witness intimidation.

During the investigation, Kushner discovered that his sister and her husband were cooperating with prosecutors. He contacted a prostitute he knew and paid her to seduce his sister’s husband and sleep with him, omitting that she was a prostitute. The sex took place in a room set up by Kushner and filled with video cameras. Kushner then sent his sister the tape showing her husband’s sexual relationship with the prostitute. I imagine Christmas dinners at their home.

Faced with a story like this, it is legitimate to ask whether there should be laws and regulations preventing a president from making certain decisions.

The American political and institutional system has a thousand aspects that could work better. But what we are seeing is not the consequence of a law that does not work. Any law will always leave a margin of discretion to the president, let alone on the use of an instrument such as the pardon, and we would miss it if it were not so. 

What we are seeing is the consequence of having elected a person like Donald Trump to the presidency. Elections have consequences.

The picture

CALI, COLOMBIA – DECEMBER 23: A Donald Trump doll is displayed for sale by street artisans on December 23, 2020 in Cali, Colombia. Every year, Colombians make dolls that symbolize the past year and sorrow, which will be burnt in a traditional celebration on new year’s eve. (Photo by Gabriel Aponte/Getty Images)

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