United States Presidents have the power to pardon criminals as well as to commute, or shorten, their sentences. Various presidents have used this power to a lesser or greater degree, with the most aggressive use of the this authority exercised by Bill Clinton near the end of his second term.
It would be nice to believe that this is not something that is abused. Unfortunately, in the case of Mr. Clinton, he used this power to pardon political cronies who had run afoul of the law. A case in point would be Mark Rich, a trader whose wife was a prominent contributor to Democrats. That’s exactly the wrong reason to pardon someone, but then we’ve never expected unblemished integrity from the Clintons.
As Mr. Obama prepares to leave office, the stack of pardon requests on his desk is a tall one, and he shows every indication of preparing to grant many. In fact, it might turn into a flurry of pardons as his time in office winds down. And some on his list could be very controversial as we’ll see.
So who are these people Obama intends to pardon? Is there any pattern? Actually, there is. Non-violent drug offenders are more likely than others to receive a pardon or a reduced sentence. Then there are the controversial ones.
One such would be, “Edward Snowden, who made the shattering revelation in 2013 of a global communications and internet surveillance system set up by the United States. The 33-year-old, a refugee in Russia, is backed by numerous celebrities like actress Susan Sarandon and singer Peter Gabriel, as well as Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union.”
Another person who leaked documents is Chelsea Manning who, “is serving a 35-year sentence in solitary confinement for handing 700,000 sensitive military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks, some of them classified.”
While the White House has said these two are not under consideration for presidential pardons, that could obviously change at the last minute.
This power the president wields comes from the US Constitution which, “allows a president to pardon ‘offenses against the United States’ and commute — either shorten or end — federal sentences.”
So far, Mr. Obama is well in the lead in one statistic, and remember that he has a week and a half left to go: “Obama has so far granted 148 pardons since taking office in 2009 — fewer than his predecessors, who also served two terms, George W. Bush (189) and Bill Clinton (396). But he has surpassed any other president in the number of commutations, 1,176.”
Perhaps that’s one way, although a crude one, to reduce prison overcrowding.
Eclipsing in magnitude even the sheer volume of pardons and commutations Mr. Obama continues to issue would be just one pardon he might make: “[S]ome have urged Obama to preventively pardon defeated Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state in light of Trump’s threats to have her prosecuted.”
What will Obama do, especially with regard to a possible pardon of Hillary to prevent subsequent administrations from prosecuting her? If the decision has been made, it’s not been made public. Case law seems to point to the requirement that the person accepting a pardon admit guilt. That would mean Hillary would effectively have to publicly admit that she lied about her email server, and that she broke the law in order to be pardoned. So that adds another dimension to all of this.
The only thing for sure is that the impending tsunami of pardons, including the possibility of a couple of bombshell ones, will come to an end of January 20.
Source: Yahoo News