Thursday, December 24, 2020

Thick As Thieves

No one was surprised by this, were they?

Trump on Wednesday granted pardons or other clemency to another 29 people, including real estate developer Charles Kushner, his son-in-law’s father, and two former advisers who were convicted as part of the FBI’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election — once again using his executive power to benefit his allies and undermine an investigation that dogged his presidency.

With his time in office nearing its end, Trump pardoned former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was convicted in 2018 of committing financial fraud and conspiring to obstruct the investigation of his crimes, and he upgraded to a full pardon the sentence commutation he provided earlier to longtime friend Roger Stone.

Trump also pardoned Kushner, the father of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who pleaded guilty in 2004 to having made false statements to the Federal Election Commission, and he subsequently pleaded guilty to witness tampering, and tax evasion stemming from $6 million in political contributions and gifts mischaracterized as business expenses.

The move came just a day after Trump granted commutations or pardons to 20 people, including three former Republican members of Congress and two others who were convicted of crimes as part of the investigation into Russia’s activities four years ago. The president also pardoned military contractors involved in the killing of unarmed civilians during the Iraq War. Routinely, Trump has avoided the normal Justice Department process for pardons, instead granting clemency to political allies and the well-connected.

Despite all this protests and railing to the contrary, this whole clustasrophe is an rather open admission on the part of Trump that he lost the election. He’s making his payoffs for silence and loyalty to his minions and co-conspirators before he gets hustled out of the White House on January 20. To wit, Charlie Pierce:

The pardons to people who worked for him, probably doled out to keep himself out of jail, don’t shock me. After all, this is the second Republican administration in which Bill Barr worked as attorney general that ended with pardons in order to protect the president*’s hindquarters. We all knew these were coming, just as we know a boatload of others are coming as well. But the Blackwater pardons are a different shade of equine. I am not afflicted with paranoid fantasies about militias coming to the president*’s defense as he chains himself to the Resolute desk, but doing business with Erik Prince is bad news, and currying favor with him by pardoning his war criminal employees is doing serious business with him.

Happy holidays, bitches.