Tags: Donald Trump | Roger Stone | Trump Administration | pardon | commutation

Presidential Pardons for Allies Is Nothing New

A banner calling for Roger Stone to be pardoned
A banner calling for Roger Stone to be pardoned (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

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Friday, 21 February 2020 10:57 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Within minutes of the sentencing Thursday of Roger Stone to 40 months in prison, President Donald Trump said he was inclined to let the judicial process "play out to its fullest because Roger has a very good chance of exoneration, in my opinion."

Legal experts who spoke to Newsmax said a decision by the Washington, D.C. Court of Appeals to overturn the lower court conviction of Stone for lying to Congress and witness tampering or to order a new trial could take at least a year.

"And by that time, Trump will have pardoned Stone or commuted his sentence," a prominent Washington, D.C., attorney predicted to us.

The presumed inevitability of a Stone pardon has already resulted in widespread editorials nationwide condemning Trump for misusing and abusing his presidential power to pardon and deliver clemency on behalf of his friends.

But presidents have been using the pardon for friends and political allies for generations.

In 1947, Boston Mayor James Michael Curley was convicted of mail fraud and, three years later, he began serving a sentence of 6-18 months at a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut.

But in 1950, five months after Curley began serving his sentence (while still holding the mayorship), President Harry Truman issued a full pardon for his crimes. This permitted Curley to return to Boston, where a huge crowd greeted him and a band played "Hail to the Chief."

Truman was responding to a letter from all but one of the members of the Massachusetts Democratic congressional delegation calling for Curley's release. (The lone holdout from the letter was Rep. John F. Kennedy, whose grandfather was a sworn enemy of Curley's.)

Truman also pardoned other Democratic wheel horses such as hotelier Seymour Weiss, a longtime party financier convicted of income tax evasion, and former Louisiana Gov. Richard Leche, who was convicted of mail fraud and sentenced to 10 years in an Atlanta federal prison. Leche once said, "when I took the oath as governor, I didn't take any vows of poverty."

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued a pardon for former Rep. Frank Boykin, D-Ala. A colorful character who served with Johnson in the House and whose slogan was "Everything's Made for Love," Boykin was convicted of bribery in 1963.

Former President Bill Clinton pardoned, commuted, or rescinded the convictions of such prominent Democrats as his own Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in 1999 about payments to his mistress; former Rep. Mel Reynolds of Illinois, who was convicted of bank fraud and obstruction of justice; and Susan McDougal, a business partner of Bill and Hillary Clinton in the failed Whitewater land deal and who was found guilty of contempt of court.

Perhaps most famously, Clinton pardoned business partners Marc Rich and Pincus Green. Both fled the country in 1983 following their indictment for illegal trading with Iran. Their pardons came in 2001, after Rich's wife Denise made large contributions to the Democratic Party and the Clinton Foundation.

Republican presidents have also used the pardon and clemency powers for political friends. Ronald Reagan in 1989 pardoned New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who was convicted of making illegal campaign contributions and obstruction of justice in 1974.

George H.W. Bush pardoned Occidental Petroleum CEO Armand Hammer for making illegal campaign contributions in 1972. (Just before his pardon, Hammer contributed $110,000 to the Republican National Committee.)

Should Trump pardon Stone, it would not be scandalous or even surprising — just part of a long presidential tradition.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Within minutes of the sentencing Thursday of Roger Stone to 40 months in prison, President Donald Trump said he was inclined to let the judicial process "play out to its fullest because Roger has a very good chance of exoneration, in my opinion."
pardon, commutation
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2020-57-21
Friday, 21 February 2020 10:57 AM
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