Presidential Pardons

Trump should consider pardoning ex-CIA boss Petraeus, senator says

After recently granting a pardon and considering at least two more, President Donald Trump should also consider pardoning former CIA director and U.S. Army general David Petraeus, a U.S. senator said. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican, made the suggestion Thursday morning during an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, the Washington Examiner reported. While in the Army, Petraeus oversaw coalition forces during the Iraq War before moving to the CIA under the Obama administration. But his time at the CIA was short-lived. A 2012 FBI investigation unearthed emails between Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell, with whom he was having an affair. Petraeus pleaded guilty in 2015 to a misdemeanor charge of handling classified information, which he gave to Broadwell in eight notebooks. “I think Gen. Petraeus is an incredible patriot, and helped guide our country during a very difficult time in Iraq and basically pulled a rabbit out of a hat there. But he made a terrible mistake,” Cornyn said on Hewitt’s show. “What I respect about Gen. Petraeus is he admitted it candidly and publicly, and took responsibility for it. You don’t see that much in Washington.” President Trump had once considered Petraeus to be his secretary of state. But that title ultimately went to Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon-Mobil CEO who has since resigned. The prospect of pardoning Petraeus comes shortly after Trump pardoned conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, who pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign contributions in the 2012 Senate race. Trump is also reportedly considering pardons for TV personality Martha Stewart and former Illinois Gov. Rob Blagojevich, Politico reported. The president also recently commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, 62, who had served more than 20 years of a life sentence without parole for a nonviolent drug offense, the report said.

In the interest of disclosure..  I worked for GEN Patraeus as a “field grade” Army officer at U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) back when he was the commanding general, and briefed the man several times personally.  So, I’ve seen the man up close and personal.  He is most definitely a patriot who literally wrote the book (i.e. Army Field Manual) on counterinsurgency.  Given all of his sacrifices to our country, I agree with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), that President Trump should give the man a full pardon for his minor indiscretion.  Hillary did FAR FAR worse, and so far has not been held to account.

Dinesh D’Souza: A behind-the-scenes look at my presidential pardon

On Wednesday I was working in my office when the phone rang and the operator announced: “Please hold for the president of the United States.” I resisted the impulse to make a joke: “I’m in the middle of something. Can you let him know I’ll call him right back?” President Trump came on, and told me he was sitting in the Oval Office with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. “You know John, don’t you?” the president said. I sheepishly said I didn’t, but of course I knew who he was. President Trump said I was a great voice for freedom and for America. Then he added: “Dinesh, I got to tell you, man to man, that you got screwed.” President Trump said I did something that would normally get a slap on the wrist and a fine, but instead the previous administration went after me with the full force of its powers. President Trump termed my case as an injustice, one that he was in a position to correct. And then came the words that I had to repeat to myself to fully grasp their significance. “I’ve decided to give you a full pardon.” The president said this would clear my record “and now you can be an even bigger champion of freedom than before.” I could do little more than mutter my grateful astonishment. Later, the president told the media that he thought I was having a heart attack. Actually, I was just tongue-tied with joy. And the conversation ended with President Trump saying he would make his decision public the following morning, not with a news release but with a Tweet. For me, the pardon was the exhilarating conclusion to a five-year ordeal. In 2012, in an attempt to help my longtime college friend Wendy Long, who was running as a Republican for the U.S. Senate in New York, I asked two of my associates to donate $10,000 apiece to her campaign. Then I reimbursed them. In doing so, I broke the law by exceeding the campaign finance limit. Now it is an open secret that campaign finance limits are regularly transgressed just about every election season. Yet such cases are rarely prosecuted. In general, the government only goes after chronic or repeat offenders, or after those who break the law with corrupt intent, seeking to buy favors or obtain some sort of quid pro quo. Consider the recent case of liberal comedian Rosie O’Donnell, who has acknowledged exceeding the campaign finance limits on five separate occasions, in five separate jurisdictions. While O’Donnell’s motives were not corrupt, she certainly is a repeat offender. Consequently, there are five times more reasons to prosecute O’Donnell than there were to prosecute me. No corruption or quid pro quo was even alleged in my case. In fact, candidate Wendy Long didn’t even know that I had contributed $30,000 instead of the allowable limit of $10,000. How, then, did the decision to prosecute me come about? Some clues are contained in my FBI file. A congressional oversight committee tried for well over a year to get this file. The FBI, then under since-fired Director James Comey, refused on familiar pretexts: claims that my file would reveal confidential sources, contained information that would jeopardize the bureau’s work, blah, blah, blah. Finally, the FBI relented and provided a redacted version of the file. The file reveals that as soon as the FBI learned about my situation – how it found out is still unclear – the agency allocated $100,000 to investigate case involving $20,000 of political contributions. This by itself is odd. The oddity, however, disappears with another revelation in the file. The FBI from the outset red-flagged me as a prominent conservative critic of the Obama administration. Why is this information about my political views even in my file? How is it relevant? The obvious answer is that the FBI was signaling to the Obama Justice Department – in other words, to Attorney General Eric Holder – that here was a political adversary that the Obama team might want to go after. And that’s why the FBI was so reluctant to give up the file. It didn’t want the Republicans in Congress to discover the bureau’s corrupt modus operandi. The stage was set for my prosecution, carried out by the Department of Justice and directed by Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Bharara tweeted Thursday that while President Trump has the right to pardon anyone he wants to, the fact is that I voluntarily pleaded guilty to a felony violation. Bharara’s logic is clear: why would someone who did not intentionally break the law publicly confess that he broke the law? Here’s why: Bharara’s prosecutors charged me with exceeding campaign finance limits. But when they learned that I might plead not guilty, they threatened to add a second charge. What, you might wonder, was this second violation? What else did I do wrong? Turns out, nothing. The second charge I was threatened with was called filing a false document. Evidently, I did this by not revealing that I was the source of the contributions made in the name of my associates. In other words, this charge was just another way of describing the first charge. The difference, however, is that the first charge carried a maximum of two years in federal prison, while the second charge carried up to five years. The bottom line was that the federal government was threatening me with a sentence so severe it would ruin my life. Then members of Bharara’s team said that if I pleaded guilty to the first charge, they would drop the second. They bludgeoned me into submitting to a lesser sentence rather than risk complete professional and personal destruction. While this is a standard tactic used by prosecutors – it is the single factor that explains why federal criminal cases have a conviction rate approaching 100 percent – it’s important to realize that the government is pressuring not only the guilty, but also the innocent to plead guilty. I find it almost comical to see Bharara put on a straight face and present the outcome of strong-arm bullying as “voluntary” confession. One has to be utterly naive to fall for such deceit. My only consolation is that Bharara’s whole scheme has collapsed. He tried to destroy a fellow Indian-American’s life out of naked political ambition. Then President Trump fired him and pardoned me! Bharara is discovering the ancient Indian wisdom contained in the modern American saying that “karma is a bitch.” My case, alas, represents a grotesque miniature of what American politics has become. It wasn’t always this way. President Jimmy Carter or even President Bill Clinton would no more dream of locking up opponents like me than the Bushes would dream of locking up leftist filmmaker Michael Moore or Rosie O’Donnell. But with President Obama and Hillary Clinton, we’ve see a gangsterization of politics in which the organs of the state – the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, the Justice Department and so on – are deployed against ideological adversaries. I’m glad to be out of the clutches of these nefarious characters, including the judge appointed by President Clinton who included in my sentence mandatory psychiatric counseling. This is a man who thought he could supervise my “re-education,” which I guess would be confirmed in his mind if I went to work for the Clinton Foundation or started making regular appearances on MSNBC. Eventually, to his dismay, the judge gave up on his little Stalinist project and confessed that I could not, by his standards, be rehabilitated. Now I’m free. No longer does the ominous phrase, “United States of America versus Dinesh D’Souza” ring in this immigrant’s head. My American Dream and my faith in America are now fully restored. Thank you, President Trump, for making this happen.

Dinesh is  best-selling author and filmmaker.  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, and talking with, Dinesh a few times.   He’s got a great sense of humor.  One time he was autographing one of his books for me, and wrote…”To (me), who taught me everything I know.”   Hahaha!  Kudos to President Trump for granting him this well-deserved pardon.  Excellent!    🙂

Opinion: Trump’s pardon of ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio was the right (and courageous) thing to do

President Trump stood up for justice and for enforcement of our immigration laws when he courageously granted a pardon Friday to Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. Despite knowing he would face criticism, the president did what was right. Arpaio was convicted by a federal judge in July of criminal contempt after being charged with violating a court order that attempted to prevent suspected illegal immigrants from being targeted by the sheriff’s traffic patrols. The sheriff acknowledged continuing the patrols, but said that targeting was not the focus. Arpaio’s conviction arose out of a lawsuit wrongfully accusing the sheriff’s office of violating the rights of Hispanics, allegedly using racial profiling tactics to identify people for traffic stops, and detaining convicts based only on the suspicion that they were illegal immigrants. Arpaio denied all wrongdoing. I sat in the courtroom through Arpaio’s trial and concluded that he was wrongfully convicted. As a former law enforcement officer myself and former executive director of the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, I know that Arpaio was dedicated to protecting the public he served and that his highest priority was keeping his community safe. Hearing testimony during Arpaio’s trial, I realized that any reasonable person who was there to pass judgment on this honest law-abiding man – who gave his life to the rule of law – could never have found him guilty on the evidence presented. However, the only one who could pass judgment on the former sheriff was U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton, because Arpaio was denied his right to a jury trial under the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The judge’s verdict convicting Arpaio was a travesty of justice. Arpaio’s critics have claimed for a long time that he is a racist and biased against Hispanics. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Under his command, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office boasted the highest percentage of Hispanic deputies, detention officers and staff in the state of Arizona. Moreover, he promoted more Hispanic officers to command positions than any other law enforcement agency in the state. On top of this, Arpaio has two grandchildren who are of Hispanic descent. To say he is biased again his own family members is absurd. Labeling him a racist for enforcing U.S. immigration law is a tired, exhausted, left-wing strategy that fails time and time again. During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump said that he would be the voice for law enforcement officers everywhere and always fight to protect them when they protected the public. President Trump held true to his promise by using his presidential pardon for Arpaio to set an important precedent: judges should interpret law and not try to rewrite it. And good men like Arpaio should not be prosecuted, persecuted and punished for doing their jobs. President Trump recognized that Sheriff Arpaio was doing his job, following the law, and protecting the people of Maricopa County – which includes Phoenix – by punishing criminals to the fullest extent, under the laws on the books. Arpaio was first elected as sheriff in Maricopa County 1992. He maintained that position for 24 years, receiving the honor of being the longest-serving sheriff ever been elected in the county. In June, the National Center for Police Defense, which I now head, delivered 40,000 petitions to the U.S. Department of Justice urging it to drop charges against the sheriff. Arpaio’s case has been politically motivated from the beginning, when the Obama administration’s Department of Justice filed misdemeanor charges against him a mere two weeks before the election, contributing to Arpaio’s loss in his reelection bid. The Department of Justice typically refrains from taking legal action against an elected official so close to an election in order to avoid influencing the outcome. Arpaio is now 85-years-old and has over 55 years of experience serving in law enforcement. He knows the limits of his power, and for 55 years stayed within those limits, while keeping the bad guys off the streets and the good people of his community safe. That’s how he earned the title of “Americas Toughest Sheriff.” By pardoning the wrongly convicted former sheriff, President Trump has shown he stands with the law-abiding people of our great country, who have the right to live in peace and safety. And the president has shown he stands against criminals, including those who have crossed our borders illegally. The author leads The National Center for Police Defense (NCPD) a non-profit dedicated to helping law enforcement officers who have been charged with a crime while following, “to the best of their ability,” the training and knowledge that they have been taught to use, by their departments. His charity supported former Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s legal defense. James J. Fotis is president of National Center for Police Defense and a former law enforcement officer. He served more than 23 years as the Executive Director of the Law Enforcement Alliance of America (LEAA) an association of law enforcement officers, crime victims and concerned citizens. Follow his organization on Twitter @defendpolice

Author James Fotis is, of course, spot on here.  Sheriff Joe’s prosecution, and subsequent conviction, was entirely politically motivated, and clearly a violation of Sheriff Joe’s 6th Amendment right to a trial by a jury.  After over a half century of honorable service in law enforcement, Pres. Trump was absolutely right in granting this pardon.

Obama announces record wave of pardons, commutations

President Obama on Monday pardoned 78 people and granted another 153 commutations, amounting to the most acts of clemency granted by a U.S. president ever in a single day. White House Counsel Neil Eggleston announced the decisions in an official blog post. He described all the individuals being pardoned or seeing their sentences shortened as “deserving.” “The 231 individuals granted clemency today have all demonstrated that they are ready to make use – or have already made use – of a second chance,” he wrote. He also previewed additional clemency decisions in the weeks ahead, saying: “I expect that the President will issue more grants of both commutations and pardons before he leaves office.” The decisions could fuel criticism from the right, following a presidential campaign in which winner Donald Trump hammered a law-and-order message and suggested authorities were too soft on crime. But Obama has been granting commutations at rapid-fire pace in his final months in office, focusing primarily on shortening sentences of those convicted of drug offenses rather than pardons. Pardons amount to forgiveness of a crime that removes restrictions on the right to vote, hold state or local office, or sit on a jury. The pardon also lessens the stigma arising from the conviction. Eggleston said Obama has now pardoned a total of 148 people during his presidency and has shortened the sentences of 1,176 people, including 395 serving life sentences. Eggleston said each clemency recipient’s story is unique, but a common thread of rehabilitation underlies all of them. Pardon recipients have shown they have led a productive and law-abiding post-conviction life, including by contributing to the community in a meaningful way, he said. The commutations were announced as Obama vacations in Hawaii during the holidays. Many of those on Obama’s list Monday had been sentenced on drug-related convictions. Groups that have urged the president to use his clemency powers cheered the decision, urging him to go further in the waning days of his administration.

Wow..  THIS is another reason why Trump was elected.  Obama doesn’t care about the rule of law, and that has, in part, defined his presidency.