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Trump Pardons Commutations and Clemency

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Posted on June 01 2018


as previously discussed regarding Arpiao’s pardon here 

and pardon power further discussed, here



United States Constitution

Presidential Pardon Power


“The President...shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.’


There is a false narrative that Presidential Pardon Power is unlimited and absolute. While others maintain there are limits to the power of Pardons. In some respects both narratives  are actually correct. For example a president can not issue a pardon as a means to obstruct justice. Much of the arguments need to be understood in the context and content. Notwithstanding a vast majority of Americans believe the presidential pardon power is ubiquitous and “unfettered” and  “absolute”.


Before the president enters office, Article II Section 1 mandates he shall take the following oath or affirmation:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."


What many seem to over look is the “take care” portiion of Section III of the Constitution. Which reads:


He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers;  he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States. 


The Take Care Clause, according to The Heritage Foundation, which reads in part:

The Take Care Clause, also known as the Faithful Execution Clause, sets out the main responsibility of the President: He must “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” Based on the Pennsylvania and New York constitutions, the Take Care Clause makes the executive responsible for the enforcement of laws. In fact, George Washington understood this clause to mean he had a duty to execute federal law. This clause does not mean that the President is without discretion or that he is a mere overseer of the execution of laws. The President has broad discretion over how and when to enforce the law. The President may not take actions that are not authorized either by the Constitution or by a valid law.


For now, let’s table the (predictable) argument of: “Can a President Pardon his/her-self.” As that would require a much deeper discussion. Given that the legal community is equally divided. Some say a President CAN, coversely others make the observation that, pursuant to Federalist 10 that a President can NOT:

‘No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity.” - James Madison 


Trump - Pardons Jan 2018-present

Thus far Trump has granted 5 Pardons and 1 Clemency. As previously discussed in various entries, there are multiple steps that “should” occur before a presidential pardon is granted. Based on my understanding of the pardon process none of these steps were taken. Below are the 13 steps ALL other presidents have followed, until now:

1. Submit the petition to the Office of the Pardon Attorney

All petitions, except petitions relating to military offenses  should be forwarded to the Office of the Pardon Attorney, Department of Justice. The completed pardon petition must be entirely legible; therefore, please type or print in ink. The form must be completed fully and accurately and notarized in order to be considered. You may attach to the petition additional pages and documents that amplify or clarify your answer to any question.


2. Federal convictions only

Under the Constitution, only federal criminal convictions, such as those adjudicated in the United States District Courts, may be pardoned by the President. In addition, the President's pardon power extends to convictions adjudicated in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and military court-martial proceedings. However, the President cannot pardon a state criminal offense. Accordingly, if you are seeking clemency for a state criminal conviction, you should not complete and submit this petition. Instead, you should contact the Governor or other appropriate authorities of the state where you reside or where the conviction occurred (such as the state board of pardons and paroles) to determine whether any relief is available to you under state law. If you have a federal conviction, information about the conviction may be obtained from the clerk of the federal court where you were convicted.

3. Five-year waiting period


Under the Department's rules governing petitions for executive clemency, 28 C.F.R. §§ 1.1 et seq., an applicant must satisfy a minimum waiting period of five years before he becomes eligible to apply for a presidential pardon of his federal conviction. The waiting period, which is designed to afford the petitioner a reasonable period of time in which to demonstrate an ability to lead a responsible, productive and law-abiding life, begins on the date of the petitioner's release from confinement. Alternatively, if the conviction resulted in a sentence that did not include any form of confinement, including community or home confinement, the waiting period begins on the date of sentencing. In addition, the petitioner should have fully satisfied the penalty imposed, including all probation, parole, or supervised release before applying for clemency. Moreover, the waiting period begins upon release from confinement for your most recent conviction, whether or not this is the offense for which pardon is sought. You may make a written request for a waiver of this requirement. However, waiver of any portion of the waiting period is rarely granted and then only in the most exceptional circumstances. In order to request a waiver, you must complete the pardon application form and submit it with a cover letter explaining why you believe the waiting period should be waived in your case.


You can read all the requirements via the DOJ Office of Pardons. Link found here. And YES I understand that the president can pardon, but what I refuse to accept is Trump’s nonstop deviation from common laws, rules and practices. The Mandatory  5 year waiting period isn’t a suggestion, it’s codified and Trump took the oath to:


“take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.


Below are the Pardons thus far Trump has granted.


Joseph Arpiao, August 25, 2017

Offense: Contempt of (Federal) Court

Sentence: N/A because Trump pardoned Arpiao BEFORE he was sentenced for his crime(s), yes that’s a plural because Arpiao was found in Cintempt of Court, twice.

during Hurricane Harvey Trump issued his first pardon of his Administration. See DOJ Pardon filing  here

As previously mentioned regarding the Arpiao Pardon, I still maintain this was Trump testing his powers. I previously discussed the after-effect of the “timing” of the pardon, here




Kristian Mark Saucier March 9, 2018

Offense against the United States of America: Unauthorized retention of defense information.

Sentence: 12 months' imprisonment and three years' supervised realease, conditioned upon six months' home confinement and the performance of 100 hours' community service (August 2016) see DOJ file here 



Scooter Libby/Irve Lewis “Scooter” Libby, April 18, 2018

Offense against the United States of America: Offense: Obstruction of justice; false statements; perjury, two counts (he lied to the FBI)

 Sentenced: Sentence: 30 months' imprisonment, two years' supervised release, $250,000 fine (June 14, 2007) see DOJ Pardon file, here 




John Arthur Johnson, May 24, 2018

Offense against the United States of America: Violation of the White Slave Traffic Act. (convicted of kidnapping in 1913 in a racially charged prosecution0

Sentence: One year and one day's imprisonment; $1,000 fine (September 14, 1920)

Johnson’s Pardon is the third posthumous pardon in our Nation’s history. See Johnson’s Pardon via this DOJ file, found here


Dinesh D'Souza, May 31, 2018

He plead guilty to numerous felonies, related to lying, covering up illegal campaign donations. It’s also noteworthy that Comey and Bharara were involved in the successful prosecution and secured a guilty plea from D’Souza. See the twitter thread below for the various court documents. Note the transcript where the Judge found D’Souza’s claim “of selective prosecution” was “all hat, no cattle”


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