Yesterday, President Trump essentially closed the books on the Russia part of the Russia hoax by issuing pardons to George Papadopoulos and Alex van der Zwaan, a couple of peripheral figures…though the LawFare gang couldn’t help crowing about how Papadopoulos was going to “flip” on President Trump…in the attempted coup d’etat (read In In Surprise Move, President Trump Pardons George Papadopoulos, Among Others).
Tonight there was phase two:
President Donald Trump on Wednesday evening announced 26 new pardons, including ones for longtime ally Roger Stone, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s father, Charles.
The pardons extend Trump’s streak of wielding his clemency powers for criminals who are loyalists, well-connected or adjacent to his family. While all presidents issue controversial pardons at the end of their terms, Trump appears to be moving at a faster pace than his predecessors, demonstrating little inhibition at rewarding his friends and allies using one of the most unrestricted powers of his office.
The pardons of Manafort and Stone reward two of the most high-profile and widely condemned former advisers of the President, both of whom were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller, went to trial and were convicted by juries of multiple crimes.
While I have zero sympathy for Manafort, his case reeked of some sort of personal vendetta on the part of the actual, no-lie evil Andrew Weissmann that pre-dated the special counsel. Manafort’s financial shenanigans had been investigated, and the Justice Department decided they were of no real import. They remained on the shelf until Weissmann got himself assigned to Mueller’s hit squad. He actually briefed reporters on the old allegations before launching a new investigation based on the old and disused evidence. Because he could chant Russia! Russia! Weissmann was able to make the charges stick. There was zero connection between Manafort and anything to do with Trump.
Roger Stone is a blow-hard who should’ve never been charged with anything other than misdemeanor mopery. At the very worst, all he would have been guilty of was getting a head’s up from Wikileaks on document releases, and there is nothing illegal or even improper about that. The fact that the FBI called CNN so they could have a camera crew at Stone’s home and then used a SWAT team to raid his home before dawn rather than simply calling his attorney and arranging for him to turn himself in is an act of bad faith that President Trump should’ve made into the focus of his fight against the Deep State.