The Next Gang of Thieves and War Criminals

Pardonpalooza is kicking up, with Trump pardoning low-level Mueller criminals (Alex Van der Zwaan and George Papadopoulos), corrupt Republican Congressmen (with pardons for early Trump supporters Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins and a commutation for Steve Stockman), and war criminals (the four Nisour Square Blackwater guards, in what is surely a favor for Erik Prince).

This is who Trump is: A man whose biggest legacy as President will be the utter abasement of the Rule of Law.

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132 replies
  1. Patient_Observer says:

    Do Papadopoulos and/or van der Swan have information that might implicate Individual 1, in the event further investigation goes forward (either in a criminal proceeding or in Congress)?

    I ask, of course, because 5th Amendment privilege has gone away.

  2. Epicurus says:

    His legacy could be many things. But as I write there are at least 75 million other Americans who believe in his abasement of the rule of law and wanted/want him to continue abasing for another four years. That includes at least three justices on the Supreme Court.

  3. Peterr says:

    Vladimir Putin is not impressed. From the Guardian:

    Vladimir Putin has signed legislation that will grant former presidents of Russia lifetime immunity once they leave office.

    The bill, which was published online on Tuesday, gives former presidents and their families immunity from prosecution for crimes committed during their lifetime.

    They will also be exempt from questioning by police or investigators, as well as searches or arrests.

    I can see Trump now, phoning up Mitch McConnell: “Mitch, why can’t you do something useful and pass a bill like this for me to sign?”

    • Earthworm says:

      Re trump and resurgent fascism:
      After the Dirty War, Argentina (and Chile) passed amnesty laws protecting the criminal architects and participants. These laws were eventually overturned, and today — too many years later! — these pathetic, aged, monsters are still being convicted and imprisoned.

    • TooLoose LeTruck says:

      This, coming from Putin at this time, does seem to beg the question…

      Is Vlad getting ready to step down, or out, or aside…

      Whatever direction someone in his position chooses to go in?

    • Rugger9 says:

      While we all know MbS is the one calling the shots in KSA, I’m sure the direct evidence that he contracted the killing is buried in the KSA archives.

      Add to that his status as Crown Prince confers some sovereign immunity (though IANAL, so please check) even if he is not yet head of state.

      And, he’s pals with Jared which makes everything peachy.

      It doesn’t make it right, and I suspect this idea is being floated to torpedo the lawsuit Khashoggi’s fiance is bringing, similar to how DJT tried to kibosh the E. Jean Carroll suit by having AG Barr say he was acting as POTUS.

  4. Eureka says:

    Weissmann is just going live on MSNBC fyi…

    After Van der Zwaarn chitchat,
    ~ opens quoting ABJ to Manafort re significance of the crime of lying / obstruction.


    Is anyone tired? I am so fucking tired… these are some straight-up disgusting criminals/ acts, the lot of them.

    • Eureka says:

      (Aside, I altered my spelling of Van der Zwaan after seeing that the tag had an ‘r’; naturally this is the first time I noticed it, in time to make an err of it — IDK if tags can be edited, in case you weren’t aware. But back to the point of these unvirtuous louses cleansed, while the Trump-Barr admin at once murders men never so-connected for crimes in their youth…)

    • Eureka says:

      Dirty deeds done dirt cheap, for the low low price of America:

      Dr. emptywheel: “There’s some overlap between the members of Congress who got multiple clemency petitions granted tonight and those who’ve promised to ignore democracy on January 6.”
      https://twitter.com/emptywheel/status/1341558691942838273

      Elie Honig: “The Mueller-related pardons are the *least* unjust and offensive of this batch. Crook GOP Congressmen get second place. War criminals who killed civilians are the worst of the whole group.”
      https://twitter.com/eliehonig/status/1341550941028401156

      Schooley: “When does Trump get to his posthumous pardon of James Earl Ray?” / Twitter
      https://twitter.com/Rschooley/status/1341555633015848960

      • Eureka says:

        Speaking of non-citizen pardons, Firtash’s must be coming in a subsequent batch — unless Barr’s replacement can kill that case (don’t recall where that left off, but Barr wasn’t doing that exit-interview virtue press for nothing. _Some_ kind of wet-work awaits that’s too tawdry for his taste +/- too close to him and his calendar of activities). If Firtash’s case is dispatched with (by whatever means), then folks like Lev might not remember or speak so much, owing to, say, pressing extra-judicial constraints — thus sparing a handful of toxic pardons.

        Just entertaining who they could/could not leave out of pardon palooza, and how to batch them, is a bit of a bezoar. Absent (or even with) adequate DOJ-bloodbathing of cases, Rudy’s going to have to be clustered with/near the “loyal innocents”, like the spawn, to mask his associations (unless fits of tweet overtake behind-the-scenes planning, always a possibility). He might even do an “All My Lawyers” or similar episode which includes people who don’t even need pardons! I bet they’ll be pissed.

        If we really get 2k-4k stimulus checks, all bets are off and it’s largesse time for everyone, while we sip our hot cocoa in appreciation to dear leader. It’s telling of Trump’s consciousness of his own criminal vulnerability that he wants to appear universally generous, that he (feels he) needs that PR move within which to sink stuff like the pardons closer to his tell-tale heart.

        • Stacey says:

          Actually, I just thought of a good self-serving reason Trump would want to send everyone $2,000 now…he’s got that Defend the Election grift going strong right now getting small dollar donations from his peeps. I wonder how much of that largess he thinks he might be able to coerce back out of their hands?

          • Eureka says:

            Can we charge him for using Treasury facilities for money laundering? I’ll wait for my check to issue on or after 21 January, then.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Firtash and Parnas, both of whom are allegedly willing to talk and I suspect would be handed over to Vlad’s tender mercies.

    • Eureka says:

      Weissmann had mentioned the pardon of Medicare fraudster Philip Esformes as an e.g. of ‘one of these things is not like the others’. Perhaps Esformes’ champions (see grody list, from Meese to AGAG, in screenshot of WH statement linked below) appealed to Trump’s sense of kinship. Via Miami Herald:

      At trial, convicted healthcare operators, the former hospital administrator and an ex-Ivy League basketball coach testified that Esformes paid them and various doctors hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to buy and sell patients [Note: so maybe he fits with the war criminals, then] as well as to get Esformes’ son into the University of Pennsylvania. Esformes himself made $38 million from Medicare and Medicaid payments between 2010 and 2016.

      (Emphases added)

      Steve Herman: “Miami Beach healthcare mogul Philip Esformes, who was convicted of bribery, kickback and money-laundering charges, has his term of imprisonment commuted by @POTUS. [screenshot, link]” […thread…; next up is another HC fraudster — buddy of Ben Carson’s]
      https://twitter.com/W7VOA/status/1341537470463275009

      Trump commutes Esformes’ 20-year sentence in massive Medicare fraud case
      https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/article248044835.html

      • Fran of the North says:

        Of course Esformes gets a pardon. What’s wrong with stealing from the government?

        A chink in the dam becomes first a dribble, then a stream and finally catastrophic failure.

        For the uninitiated, Medicare has lots of restrictions on what you can and can’t do to acquire patients, and a serious no-no is providing compensation to physicians to encourage patients to use a service. If there is no value add by the physician, there can be no incentive paid.

        But rules are just for the little people.

  5. PeterS says:

    Perhaps we should start a competition: can you name someone who has been convicted of a crime, or is possibly under investigation, and who has expressed strong support for Trump, that could surely not be under consideration for a pardon at this time?

    • Nehoa says:

      What comes to mind: Rick Gates – expressed strong support, but ratted out; and Julian Assange for all the reasons Dr. emptywheel has laid out in her many posts. I think Manafort is line for a commutation rather than a pardon. Oh…and the GRU hackers indicted by Mueller.

        • P J Evans says:

          Trmp seems to think that they’re now safe from all prosecutions. I don’t think he understands how pardons work. Or that criminals don’t usually stop criming.

  6. e.a.f. says:

    well Putin is a lot smarter than Trump so of course Putin has a better bill.

    None of what Trump is doing with pardons ought to surprise the majority of us. there is nothing too low he will not and can not stoop to. I’m just surprised there haven’t been more pardons and for worse offenses. Wonder if El Capo gets out. Now that would be news, the rest of his political associates receiving pardons, no surprise.

  7. Chris.EL says:

    when first I read this current EW contribution from Dr. emptywheel/ Marcy, I had tears in my eyes. Not wanting to be the first commenter in such a state, I did other responsibilities; i.e. feed the pets, microwave dinner…

    Just by coincidence, was returning to watching “The Lincoln Lawyer” and it struck me the very real danger that criminal defense attorneys encounter; very scary.

    What got me teared up was from Twitter, maybe a retweet from Popehat–the Rubicon~~ …”This is what the four Blackwater mercenaries Trump just pardoned did in Iraq. A cold blooded massacre of men, women and children.” … there must have been a link to utube — no f-ing way am I going to look at that!!!!

    My meandering point is that Trump is so completely corrupt.

    Trump has got to be trading these pardons to **criminals** in exchange for their promises to stand at Trump’s beck and call — be ready to go to battle for Trump!

  8. John Langston says:

    Let’s debrief them all. They have no 5th amendment protection They can spill their guts for our nation’s security and the American peoples’ right to know what happened.

    Tell the truth or face contempt. Lie and get charged for perjury. The new AG should get to the bottom of this.

    And the former President will face charges if these pardons can be proven corrupt.

    • John Langston says:

      And regarding those Blackwater murderers, I suppose they could be subject for extradition to Iraq? So get out of an American prison and get incarcerated in Iraq.

      • Rugger9 says:

        As much as these four deserve it, that’s not going to happen. We generally have a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the host nations that would detail how this works. It is not unusual for servicemembers to face local justice (i.e. for drug busts in particular, most of the world is rather strict on those charges) when the SOFA permits it. I do not know what SOFA was in effect in Iraq at the time of Nisour Square and whether Blackwater was covered (I suspect it was not).

        • bmaz says:

          Nope. That is not going to happen. For all the appropriate consternation about Flynn, this is about 100X worse. Almost unspeakable.

          • subtropolis says:

            What they did to dozens of Iraqis was unspeakable. Regardless of current agreements or the anticipated outcome, I would encourage the Iraqi Justice Minister to begin writing up an extradition request.

            • Rugger9 says:

              I think you’d have better luck going to the ICC and hope these four turn up in a place willing to extradite them to the Hague. There will probably never be a president willing to extradite a US citizen abroad to face charges, especially to a place where the justice system is not really based upon actual evidence and the ability to challenge the prosecution.

              It’s one of the things we tried to hammer into our sailors when in places like Singapore where rowdy behavior is punished (sometime with caning, the number of strokes of the ru-tan is given each day) because Americans think their justice system goes where they do.

              Remember the nonsense earlier in DJT’s term when the UCLA players got busted in the PRC for shoplifting and DJT intervened to get them out. That release probably would not happen now. .

      • John Langston says:

        I’d say the whole deal is up to the new AG. If he appoints a prosecutor or farms it out to SDNY, there’s enough already.

        Trump’s already in deep as “Ind 1” at SDNY, that’s campaign fraud and perjury with his own attorney as a witness against him.

        Next, you have Mueller and 10 potential counts of obstruction; the pardons strengthen the case for obstruction, not weaken it. There’s more than criminal reasons to pursue this, there are national security reasons regarding Russian collusion. I’d bet there’s plenty criminality there too. Russia, perhaps Turkey. And don’t forget Ukraine.

        Then we have misuse of campaign and 2017 inaugural cash, tax, insurance and financial fraud and whatever business corruption.

        So far as the Blackwater murderers, I have no idea whether the SOFA agreement would protect these guys or could be waived. The pardon certainly opens it up. Maybe an extradition will go the USSC, who knows?

        Bottomline for all this, if we have an aggressive AG these guys aren’t safe from jail. And don’t think about changing some civil rules trying to reform Presidential Pardons (as been yacked by the talking heads)- if an AG won’t go after a president that used pardons to protect himself criminally, there is not much use of passing a reform law that would only be laughed at by a corrupt president.

        I know that the Trumpers will go nuts if Trump is indicted. And it’s quite likely that any trial would end in a hung jury. But there are principles and the rule of law. These crimes are just too obvious to skate.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      I suspect some of this may be too dicey for the new AG, who will also have a host of other issues to address.

      However, it certainly appears that some of the state AG’s are going to have to figure out which (of the multitude) of crimes to prosecute in any given state. And NY, after almost a year of COVID by February, will probably be in no mood to cut Trumpsters any slack. Ditto other state AG’s, working with governors and crushing budget strain b/c Trump did not ensure that state and local governments are funded.

  9. The Old Redneck says:

    His criminal exposure upon leaving office may be even greater than we all thought. He knows what’s coming, I guess. His grasping and flailing has gotten so vile and desperate that not even Bill Barr had the stomach for it.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Having the ability to act with impunity is Trump’s greatest desire. It is immensely pleasurable and relieves him of all fear and failing. Abusing the pardon power comes close. More of these will follow. They will be more abusive as he gets closer to becoming unemployed and being evicted.

    • Eureka says:

      The restraint imposed by his (real) counselors, to save the best for last, is probably killing him. Or I should say killing America, as he distracts himself with delusions of sedition.

  11. Raven Eye says:

    Ya know…The usual grifters and crooks are one thing. But pardoning a convicted murder serving a life sentence is so far beyond vile and contemptible — I struggle for words. Where are all the evangelicals and pro-life folks on these pardons?

  12. Fraud Guy says:

    Sounds like Trump is trying to pull off a movie plot by releasing all of the criminals, grifters, and murderers who will/have supported him so he can use their skills to overturn the election and declare martial law.

    • Chris.EL says:

      Totally agree!!

      Am I alone in thinking Trump is getting kickbacks for these pardons?

      Someone should do a spreadsheet with estimated values of each pardon.

      From Marcy’s Twitter:
      …”Trump would be more likely to pardon him, IMO, if he knew Nader lied to protect the discussions between RU and KSA and UAE during the transition.

      And yes, if he pardons Nader WHILE ALSO pardoning Ghislaine Maxwell, it would be very much on brand.”
      ~~~~~~
      WOW!

      Maxwell’s pardon gotta cost millions.

      • RMD says:

        Trump pardons prior to yesterday’s additions:

        – Eddie Gallagher (War Cimes)
        – Michael Flynn: Convicted of lying to FBI to obstruct investigation into Trump/Russia collusion
        – Roger Stone: sentenced to 40 months in federal prison for obstruction, false statements, witness tampering
        – Joe Arpaio: former Sherriff, guilty of criminal contempt of court.
        – Dwight and Steven Hammond, Oregon ranchers convicted of arson for burning more than 100 acres of federal land
        – Rod Blagojevich, fmr governor of Illinois convicted of trying to shake down a children’s hospital and sell Obama’s Senate seat. Trump commuted Blagojevich’s sentence on February 18, freeing him from prison six years early.
        – Scooter Libby, convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice.
        – Bernard Kerik, fmr NY City police commissioner under Rudy Giuliani, pleaded guilty in 2009 to eight felonies, including tax fraud and lying to White House officials.
        – Michael Milken, billionare, charged with insider trading and convicted of securities fraud in 1990.
        – Paul Pogue, owner construction company, convicted of tax fraud. underpaid taxes by $500,000
        – David Safavian, convicted of obstruction of justice and making false statements in 2008 in connection with the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.
        – Pat Nolan, fmr CA – R legislator, convicted in political corruption
        – Dinesh D’Souza, convicted of making illegal campaign contributions & funneling $20,000 through straw donors to evade campaign finance limits.
        – Conrad Black, fmr media mogul convicted of obstruction of justice and fraud
        – Angela Stanton, convicted on federal conspiracy charges for her role in a car theft ring in 2004.
        – Eddie DeBartolo Jr., fmr owner of 49ers, convicted of failing to report a $400,000 bribe the governor of Louisiana solicited from him.
        – Michael Behenna, fmr Army Lt. convicted for murder of Ali Mansur, an Iraqi prisoner.
        – Mathew Golsteyn, fmr Maj. convicted for murder. he acknowledged having killed an Afghan man in 2010.
        – Clint Lorance, fmr Lt., convicted of second-degree murder after ordering troops to fire on unarmed Afghan civilians in 2012.
        ~ source: Mother Jones

        “Donald Trump has reportedly told aides he will pardon them for any laws they might break to build a wall along the US-Mexico border as he rushes to get hundreds of miles of fencing erected before the 2020 election. ~The Guardian

        Trump said he will pardon them for any laws broken in the process, allegedly telling aides: “Don’t worry, I’ll pardon you.”

        • subtropolis says:

          This just in: You can add Paul Manafort, Charles Kushner, and Roger Stone to that odious list.

          (Stone was just granted a pardon to go with his earlier commuted sentence.)

      • P J Evans says:

        Some of them are pardons in return for favors received, or protection for Trmp because they know too much about what he’s done.

    • harpie says:

      When Flynn was pardoned Ruth Ben-Ghiat [Historian. Authoritarians, fascism, coups, propaganda. Author of Strongmen: From Mussolini to the Present, assesses Trump in this context] wrote:

      https://twitter.com/ruthbenghiat/status/1340441025937104896
      6:36 PM · Dec 19, 2020

      Remember, Flynn was pardoned of past crimes to be available to commit new crimes.

      Mussolini and Mobutu often pardoned criminal elements before embarking on new phases of corruption and violence.

  13. skua says:

    Anyone seeing what “negative to Trump” news is being distracted from with this “joke”* of Presidential pay-offs?
    (The Flynn-led military takeover proposal was many hours ago and already buried)

    cf. “The Aristocrats” joke.
    I remember the days when that joke required a strong stomach. But after 4 years of Trump?
    Maybe “the Trump Administration” would be a better punch-line.

  14. harpie says:

    Remember when Trump pardoned war-criminal Eddie Gallagher?

    This was published at the time:
    Rep. Hunter on War-Crimes Suspect Gallagher: I’m Guilty of Same ‘Bad Thing’
    https://timesofsandiego.com/military/2019/05/25/rep-hunter-on-war-crimes-suspect-gallagher-im-guilty-of-same-bad-thing/
    MAY 25, 2019

    “Eddie did one bad thing that I’m guilty of too — taking a picture of the body and saying something stupid,” Hunter said at a border-issues forum with his father, former Rep. Duncan L. Hunter. […]

    There’s more from a discussion we had at Rayne’s post Here:
    https://www.emptywheel.net/2019/05/24/historys-rhyme-part-2-abuse-of-power-sounds-so-familiar/#comment-792185

    • harpie says:

      Hunter, at the time, on military justice system:

      he wanted the court-martial to go forward so the American people can “see how disgusting the military justice system is when it’s run by lawyers and bureaucrats [who] go after the war-fighter.”
      Hunter said such a trial would embarrass the Navy and “maybe give an example of how they can change the system.”

      Hunter on the civilian criminal justice system:

      Alluding to his own federal criminal case […] he would argue that “our regular justice system is just as abusive as the military justice system. It’s not about justice.”

    • harpie says:

      Also, there’s this:
      https://twitter.com/peterwsinger/status/1341803524657721344
      12:51 PM · Dec 23, 2020

      Reminder that Duncan Hunter Jr. , who Trump pardoned, stole “money intended for wounded warriors, [a crime] which he tried to pin on his own wife.” @DefenseOne

      From Wikipedia, about Hunter’s wife:

      In August 2020 Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds for personal use and was sentenced to eight months of home confinement and three years’ probation. In November 2020 she filed for a divorce from Duncan D. Hunter.

      So, home confinement until April 2021 and probation until 2024.
      Meanwhile, Duncan, pardoned, can crime again.

      • harpie says:

        While Hunter stole “money intended for wounded warriors”,
        the family of a nine year old victim DONATED to America’s war-wounded:

        https://twitter.com/adamnlawyer/status/1341577554382249997
        9:53 PM · Dec 22, 2020

        Ali Kinani was 9 years old when he was shot in the head by Blackwater guards on September 16, 2007 in Baghdad Iraq. @realDonaldTrump just pardoned his killers. I represented Ali’s and five other families in a civil lawsuit against Blackwater and Erik Prince for the killings. […]

        The US government provided Ali’s family a small condolence payment. They donated ½ the payment to wounded US soldiers. Ali’s mother delivered the donation to the US embassy. General Ray Odierno sent this thank you letter to Ali’s family. Donald Trump just slapped her in the face. [screenshot]

        • harpie says:

          Ordierno’s letter says the gift was “on behalf of the families of fallen American soldiers”.

          …does NOT change the point of the comment.

      • harpie says:

        From Ordierno’s letter:

        […] The prosecutors advised me confidentially about the extraordinary gesture that you made at the conclusion of your meeting with them. Your substantial generosity on behalf of the families of fallen American soldiers has touched me deeply. In the face of your family’s own personal tragedy, your act of kindness and compassion for grieving American families is truly remarkable.
        On behalf of the United States Military, please accept my deepest thanks for your generosity.
        Sincerely, Raymond T. Odierno
        General US Army
        Commanding

  15. joel fisher says:

    Can an Eric Prince pardon be far off? Pardoned or un-pardoned, there’s a guy I’d like to see in a witness chair taking the Fifth when asked about Trump. Obviously, it’s not going to happen in the Senate, but the House.

  16. skua says:

    Except for the COVID death-toll my money’d be on Biden “looking forward”.
    But hundreds of thousands of deaths due to Trump’s deliberate neglect had better tilt the scales the other way.
    Unless Biden wants to embed Donald J. Trump’s “Dead Americans are losers and better ignored” attitude.
    If Trump walks there is no known bounds on any future President’s criminal acts.

  17. quebecois says:

    I’ve often snarked that Mueller is a good little Republican.

    I wonder what he thinks of these pardons that involve his inquiry.

    • Chris.EL says:

      It’s always so sad to look at folks who have strived to do their best throughout their careers getting shot down by Trump; sometimes just for “flying a little too close.”

      Mueller looks a man — of a certain age — as health starts to get away from him; especially now with Covid lurking around every corner.

      • subtropolis says:

        I find it sad that so many have convinced themselves that Mueller was being “a good little Republican” or even that, while his intentions were good, he “[flew] a little too close” to Trump’s dumpster inferno. Blame obstructionist Barr. Blame Congress — the House, for failing to pick up the ball, and the Senate, for promising to shitcan any attempt to do so.

        • BSChief says:

          And yet, while neither Mueller nor Comey (nor McCabe, for that matter) would consider himself to be a doormat, I think that the public perception is that Trump has walked all over them. Unfortunately.

          • Montana Voter says:

            It is clear that Mueller found evidence of Trump’s criminality but was constrained by the Nixon era opinion that a President could not be prosecuted but had to be impeached. Otherwise, there would have been no reason for Barr to both lie about the Mueller report AND prevent its complete release.
            The failure of Congress to challenge Barr and Rosenstein and pursue aggressively the full report’s release and impeachment is the failure not Mueller ‘s actions. He did was he was able to do under his authority. Failure to follow up for political reasons by others cannot be a basis for scapegoating Mueller .

          • Ginevra diBenci says:

            It has become clear since Mueller’s team folded up their tents at Barr’s behest that their scope had been restricted by Rosenstein from the start. Rosenstein strikes me as one of those slippery figures who cultivates an unassuming image for the purpose of playing every side of the fence with semi-plausible deniability.

  18. I Never Lie and am Always Right says:

    The following poem is three years old, and perhaps could use some updating to make reference to the pardons, but I’d thought I would post it here. Enjoy.

    ‘Twas The Day After Christmas(2017)

    ‘Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the House, Not a member was stirring, not a mistress’s blouse. The coffers for campaigns were hung with great care,
    Knowing that lobbyists would soon be there. The Senators were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of tax cuts danced in their heads.
    And Paul Ryan with his Ayn Rand novel, and Mitch McConnell in his shell Had settled in to survive a possible 2018 Hell.
    When on Pennsylvania Avenue there arose such a clitter, It made so much noise, it had to be Twitter.
    Away to their iPhones people flew like a bird- Would his words ever make sense, or be something absurd? (The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow reminded The House that health insurance must go!) Then looking on their screens but what should appear But a miniature sleigh, drawn by people quite weird. With a small-handed driver, and his hair in a clump,
    They knew in a second, it must be St. Trump. More rapid than a Lamborghini they came And the orange‐haired one, he called them by name: “Now Mnuchin! Now Conway! Now Pruitt and Kelly! On Bannon! On Mike Pence – you look great on the Telly! To the homes of the rich! And to my friends, too! We’re not here for the masses; we’re here for the few!” As people who’re dodging subpoenas may fly, As their legal bills stack all the way to the sky, So on to the millionaires’ houses they flew, With a sleigh full of cash and post-Christmas tweets too! And then in a twinkling, what appeared on TV, But the prancing and pawing by St. Trump in great glee. And faster than Usain Bolt runs a 100 meter dash, Down through the chimneys came boatloads of cash. The cash was all dressed up in bows from Trump U, Tied by St. Trump himself, while at Mar-A-Lago. He held cash in bundles pulled out of large sacks, And he looked like he’d swallowed ten thousand Big Macs. His hair how it twinkled, his dimples quite scary, His cheeks were quite pasty, like some Steven King fairy. His very large mouth chirped away like the birds, Not stopping to think before spitting out words. It was almost as if he was singing a chorus, Saying if we are are rich he will never ignore us.
    The stump of a straw he held tight in his lips, He drank sodas galore and ate lots of chips. He had a broad near his face, those are his words not mine, And she shook every which way, which St. Trump said was fine. He was chubby and plump, never worked-out at all, He almost looked Russian, but he was slightly too tall. A wink of his eye and a nod from his head, Convinced all those rich folks they had nothing to dread. And he filled up their stockings, doing his work; Having helped out his rich friends, he turned like a jerk, And waving a finger to the CNN crowd, He flew out the chimney as high as a cloud. He sprung to his sleigh team, and while watching them grovel, He twittered like Scrooge from the Charles Dickens novel.
    And he shouted as he went home, and quacked like duck: “Merry Christmas if you’re rich! The rest of you tough luck!

  19. What Constitution? says:

    The reference to “a posthumous pardon for James Earl Ray” as being in an upcoming batch of Trump pardons. That’s not funny. But it is exquisite for summing up the thought process exhibited by Trump here.

    So where’s The Onion on this? Capone? Hitler? Genghis Khan? Surely there’s no line any more. Oh, and Capone was very badly treated, it was a Witch Hunt, all they could come up with was tax fraud. And for the biggest laugh, Trump himself. There’s “precedent” for that, you know: Mr. Trump has repeatedly stated publicly that the Constitution gives him the absolute right to do that and, you know what, nobody has “established” that he doesn’t (and Art. II says he can do whatever he wants, too), so The President’s unchallenged statements are “precedent” now, they’re “evidence” of truth in the same way that Biden getting millions more votes than Trump is “evidence” of fraud.

    Trump’s abuse of the pardon power and this laundry list of vermin that Trump is releasing to spit in the eye of Justice while rewarding his cronies for their sheer sycophancy and their concomitant criminality may end up having one salutary result: absolute verification for the soul of the nation and the annals of history that there is and was nothing decent about that human being. If there aren’t Trumpers scraping bumper stickers off their trucks over the sheer shamelessness of this demonstration of Trump’s vileness now, there will be shortly.

    • Fran of the North says:

      ‘Trumper’s scraping bumper stickers off’? Nah, they see the pardons and commutations as a feature, not a bug. For those dyed-in-the-wool MAGAts, they’ll be emboldened to buy a bigger truck and a bigger flag.

      Now there are probably some ‘Pubs that held their nose for any number of somewhat justifiable reasons while pulling the Trump lever in the booth, and those are probably throwing up in their mouths as they scrape.

      The latter group shouldn’t be conflated with the chest thumping, meeting storming putriots.

      That said, I still have little respect for that second group either. To so willingly throw away principles just because there is short term gain to be had is hypocrisy at best.

      • adambulldog says:

        What principles are “principled conservatives” supposed to stand for, really? White supremacy? Antifeminism? Unsafe workplaces and environmental devastation? Inequality? Hatred of LBGTQ people?

      • skua says:

        Yup.
        They’re OK with Trump spitting on their relatives who died fighting for America in wars.

        Escapees from Nth Korea, having seen their families starved to death, been tortured themselves and seen fellow escapees getting shot, still think that Dear Leader is a great man who was let down by his underlings. Human “reasoning” can be broken in the long term.

  20. RMD says:

    A re-run of Colbert’s interview w Rachel Maddow (aired last night) highlighted her examination of the balled-up handling of VP Spiro Agnew’s resignation, A complex back story of an arrangement coordinated with Nixon, in exchange for dropping criminal charges against Agnew he agreed to resign. Nixon weighed in, advising the DOJ to grant him the courtesy of not being charged for his separate acts in the Watergate conspiracy, if Agnew were to resign, thus preventing the succession of Agnew to the presidency. What was intended to be a one-time pass, has become the precedent subsequent presidents point to when asserting that “if the President does it, it’s not illegal”… and therefore, are free from being charged. She stated that Mueller referred to this ruling as the basis for his decision not to pursue charges against Trump.
    She referenced details of her research in her recent book, co-authored with Michael Yarvitz, “Bag Man, The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-up and Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House”
    [apologies for being slightly OT]

      • Peterr says:

        How’s this?

        “Long before Donald Trump disrupted the rules of politics, Spiro Agnew cheerfully derided liberals, the establishment, ivory tower professors, and the press. In Bag Man, Maddow and Yarvitz provide rich new details about the shameless corruption and astonishing fall of Richard Nixon’s vice president. Meticulous reporting and vivid storytelling bring to life the lessons from the investigation and prosecution of a leader at the top of American government, providing useful guidance today as we navigate rhyming themes. As the authors write, ‘History is here to help.’”—Barbara McQuade, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan

        You may not care for her show or style of offering commentary, but in her books she is much more focused and direct.

      • RMD says:

        ….I found a fairly good review of the book and subject, accompanied by a number of informed comments here:

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/vice-president-agnews-misdeeds-and-the-challenges-of-holding-him-accountable/2020/12/17/0402018e-29bd-11eb-8fa2-06e7cbb145c0_story.html
        — — —
        As for other sources….one commenter referenced an earlier study of the Agnew/Nixon events:
        “A Heartbeat Away: The Investigation and Resignation of Vice President Spiro T. Agnew” by Richard Cohen and Jules Witcover, published in April 1974.
        — — —
        a link was provided to the PBS interview w the authors Maddow and Yavitz, titled:
        ‘Bad Behavior By People In High Office’: Rachel Maddow On The Lessons Of Spiro Agnew”

        “Richard Nixon’s first vice president resigned amid charges of bribery and tax evasion. Maddow and Mike Yarvitz revisit Agnew’s story in the podcast (and now book) Bag Man. Originally broadcast in 2019
        https://freshairarchive.org/segments/bad-behavior-people-high-office-rachel-maddow-lessons-spiro-agnew-0d

        —–
        I meant to point out that the book was drawn from her 30 podcasts that featured recordings of the principals speaking

        • bmaz says:

          I’m sorry, I was looking for something that was NOT associated with Maddow or her crappy “podcasts”. I am old enough to know the Agnew saga, and do not need the navel gazing Maddow to understand it.

          • Peterr says:

            You know, bmaz, I think I see your knee jerking here. You give conservative lawyers more of a break than you do Maddow. You at least are willing to read their stuff before you condemn it.

            Feel free to avoid her show, and feel free to knock the actual things she says. But it’s not a good look to simply trash her without considering what she actually dug into in her research here. Not everyone is as old as you and me and lived through it, so maybe the Kids These Days do need to read what she’s saying.

            • bmaz says:

              I don’t need to read her book, and sure as hell am not going to listen to her stupid podcasts. I have seen her on TV since she started off as a Tucker Carlson sidekick. So, I am fairly comfortable with the “look” of what I am saying. And I very much hope “the kids these days” find a less preening and navel gazing jackass than Rachel Maddow to read and follow.

              • subtropolis says:

                She’s one of the very, very few people on television who has honestly and intelligently covered this national dumpster fire. I wasn’t a fan for a long time but I think that she deserves nothing but accolades for what she’s been doing.

                Of course, you wouldn’t likely know anything about that, being above it all.

          • RMD says:

            I did reference a work by someone decades earlier
            “A Heartbeat Away: The Investigation and Resignation of Vice President Spiro T. Agnew” by Richard Cohen and Jules Witcover, published in April 1974.

    • RMD says:

      The details about Agnew, his out in front corruption, and the backstory giving rise to such an important precedent are fascinating.
      It was hoped that a few others might add a comment on the origins of such an important unofficial guideline.

      • RMD says:

        What I fumbled at articulating; was that the lynch pin undergirding Mueller not pursuing charges against Trump, despite abundant indications warranting it, was this corrupt deal hatched by Nixon with the DOJ…that gets examined by Maddow and Yarvitz…that “you cannot prosecute a sitting president”.

        THAT phony precedent neutralized what should have been–would have been a finding of enormous consequence to the country.
        Instead we are subjected to gleeful revisionists characterizing the Russian investigation as a “hoax” and a “which® hunt?” and proof that “they found nothing.”

        The hope was that better informed contributors posting here might comment, or… if even Dr. Wheeler or Mr Bmaz might take a whack at the backstory and this odious precedent.

        • cavenewt says:

          Thank you. For those humble, non-lawyer citizens like myself, we just can’t understand why this “memo” thing seems to have the force of law. If a president does do something blatantly criminal while in office, even if it’s something worse than anything Trump did (for the sake of argument), it seems un-American to render them immune.

  21. RWood says:

    My hope is that with every trump crime exposed we also get an inquiry as to why Pelosi did not do more to counter him.

    They should end every story with “Pelosi knew about this on XX/XX/XXXX and did nothing.”

    • Rugger9 says:

      Pelosi didn’t let DJT off the hook as much as the GOP did from the top down.

      Start with McConnell, Nunes, RoJo, Gaetz, and Graham first before going after Pelosi

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Agree.
        Not only did they let. him off the hook, they actively protected him.
        Here’s hoping some state AGs figure out why…

    • gmoke says:

      The USA is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court. We have no standing there and the Republicans would go crazy if Biden tried to do what you suggest.

      • skua says:

        Repubs going crazy is a given.
        Which leaves standing as the obstacle. Which could, in theory, be oversome by becoming a signatory.

        • Rugger9 says:

          There are reasons we in the USA have not signed on to the ICC, mostly/officially because (IIRC, and again IANAL) there are procedural differences that make it less likely our citizens would not get a fair trial in the sense that we understand. That, and dodging accountability for what prior administrations have done.

      • Montana Voter says:

        I would have to say that the Republicans have gone crazy already with their utter abdication toTrump and his criminality.
        Why would anyone care now if they “go crazy” over something Biden does?
        It seems to me that after Trump Biden has a pass on almost anything his conscience would allow.

        • P J Evans says:

          I’m not sure Trmp would recognize a conscience if it bit him someplace tender.
          Biden, on the other hand, does seem to have one.

      • SteveR says:

        I understand we’re not a signatory to the Rome Act, but I don’t believe we need to sign on to the Act in order for the ICC to gain jurisdiction–as a non-signatory, the jurisdiction of the ICC is predicated upon a unanimous vote of the UNSC, so we can always veto it. As for “concerns” our citizens may not get a fair trial, I would observe that these guys were already tried and convicted, so I think we can check off that box. I expect there is a laundry list of ramifications that probably include some good reasons not to do it, but I am curious whether it’s an “option.”

  22. Peterr says:

    Trump also had some very nice things to say about the old game of thieves and war criminals, in his message to Congress explaining why he vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act:

    Additionally, the Act includes language that would require the renaming of certain military installations. Over the course of United States history, these locations have taken on significance to the American story and those who have helped write it that far transcends their namesakes.

    Wait. The traitors for whom these installations are named are far beneath those who serve in the present? Sounds like an argument for renaming, not for holding on to these traitorous names to me.

    Moving on . . .

    My Administration respects the legacy of the millions of American servicemen and women who have served with honor at these military bases, and who, from these locations, have fought, bled, and died for their country.

    And we bestow honor through these bases by naming them after people who shot, maimed, and killed American soldiers defending the Union? Riiiiiight. But I digress.

    From these facilities, we have won two World Wars. I have been clear in my opposition to politically motivated attempts like this to wash away history and to dishonor the immense progress our country has fought for in realizing our founding principles.

    You mean politically motivated attempts to justify the Lost Cause, which gave these bases their names and tried to wash away what happened between 1860 and 1865 in the first place? Yeah, that needs to be walked back.

    I guess Trump is simply expressing his respect for the 3/5th compromise, the Dred Scot decision, and his disdain for the politically motivated 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments.

  23. Rugger9 says:

    Continuing the process, it looks like AG Barr also silenced Parnas and Fruman… for a while until now. Parnas is suing because of the way he was arrested trying to fly to the Ukraine with Rudy (who backed out at the last moment). I’d be interested to know if Parnas has a chance here.

    https://www.salon.com/2020/12/23/in-new-court-filing-bill-barr-accused-of-arresting-impeachment-witnesses-to-shield-trump/

    In other news, Wohl and Burkman have new troubles in NY on top of their issues in MI and OH. AG James wants to talk to them.

    https://www.salon.com/2020/12/23/ny-attorney-general-subpoenas-pro-trump-troll-jacob-wohl-for-voter-suppression-scheme/

  24. DLup says:

    After today’s catch (Stone, Manafort, Jared’s dad Charles Kushner), seems like the kids, Jared, and Rudy are the remaining big names. Tons more to follow presumably, but are there other headliners I am missing? Do various cabinet secretaries either need pardons or have the star power of Uday, Qusay, Jarvanka, and Four Seasons?

  25. Savage Librarian says:

    Rosemary Vrablic: Pardon me, but I’m looking forward to early retirement after a swell career serving my wonderful clients at Deutsche Bank (paraphrased, of course.)

  26. Chris.EL says:

    Here’s a pardon I hadn’t heard much about before, from Wapo: “President Trump granted a pardon Wednesday to a former Prince George’s County canine police officer who was convicted of a federal civil rights violation for releasing her police dog on an unarmed homeless man in 1995.”… Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/trump-pardons-former-prince-georges-police-officer/2020/12/23/041eb13e-4589-11eb-a277-49a6d1f9dff1_story.html

  27. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump continues to lash out at the world with his latest round of pardons – and he’s just gotten started. Christmas Eve and Day, New Year’s Eve and Day – and Inauguration Eve and Day – will likely give us further rounds of achingly destructive pardons that amount to two-by-fours shoved into the eyes of American law, justice, and society. It’s part of his attempt to burn the place down.

    At least with regard to pardons, a few states might be able to pick up the thread of justice. I would hope this begins to disabuse Joe Biden of any kindly, reach-across-the-aisle thoughts he might have about the man he is about to succeed – and the political party that continues to back him literally to the hilt.

    • Chris.EL says:

      This is about the only thing that gives me comfort in this pardoning of all these criminals. From Professor Timothy Snyder on Twitter: “Timothy Snyder
      @TimothyDSnyder
      A presidential pardon “carries an imputation of guilt” and its acceptance is a “confession.” Burdick v. United States, 236 U.S. 79 (1915).”
      ~~~~~~~~
      Washington Post did a story about a pardon granted to a police officer who went to prison for 10 years for letting her police dog attack an unarmed homeless man.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Burdick’s assumption about the inerrancy of the legal system – rendered, as it was, at the height of Jim Crow – is charming. Pardons are sometimes issued to the wholly innocent, and to the overcharged and over-penalized, which makes irrational the idea that their issuance and acceptance necessarily implies guilt and a confession of crime. They might equally be an acknowledgement of and apology for a wrong done.

        Trump’s pardons, though, are so outside the mainstream and so destructive of normal considerations that politically they are sui generis, a thing unto themselves. They are valid as to the person pardoned, but they ought to subject the issuer to civil and/or criminal sanction.

  28. Eureka says:

    Blockbuster thread, the whole damn thing. Bill Barr & FedSoc legacy:

    Isaac Arnsdorf:

    “I wanted to understand who was responsible for the Trump admin’s record string of executions. I got 1000s pages of govt records & court docs. They showed officials trampling over legal & practical barriers. Here’s what I learned: [ProPublica link]”
    https://twitter.com/iarnsdorf/status/1341882076568629248

    “1. The govt is using a lethal injection drug from a secret source that failed a lab test.
    2. Barr & aides picked who to execute. Reasons they gave were factually inaccurate.
    3. DOJ outsourced executions to private contractors paid in CASH. More details below.”

    First: DOJ needed to find a new drug it could use in lethal injections. Officials considered fentanyl but thought it would be a bad look. Instead they chose a sedative called pentobarbital.

    “Prisoners’ lawyers: the drug floods the lungs, causing suffering akin to death by drowning. SCOTUS: it’s fine. [link]

    […] [horrible things]

    “Next: In July 2019, Barr got a list of 14 possible prisoners to execute. He and aides chose 5.

    Barr said the reason was they all killed children or the elderly. Not true.”

    […]

    “Yes, Barr had a big role. Other key officials involved:

    @MattWhitaker46

    Jeff Sessions
    Mark Inch
    Jeffrey Rosen
    Paul Perkins
    Tim Shea”

    […] [more horrible things]

    “Then, DOJ changed its regulations to give itself more flexibility in executions. The point person on this policy change, Laurence Rothenberg, has criticized attempts to outlaw executing juveniles and people with intellectual disabilities. [link to the FedSoc server]”

    […]

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Eureka, thank you for re-injecting this into the pardon conversation. To me they are vile facets of the same obscene whole: bullying, opportunism and murder rewarded on one hand with just punishments erased, and bullying murder committed opportunistically on the other using the federal death penalty to wipe out those who lack the means and connections to skate on their crimes–and in many cases, the resources (from early support to treatment for mental illness) to resist committing them in the first place.

      • Eureka says:

        Yes, they are Unitary ‘pleasures’, and they are perverse.

        Can you imagine them, coolly leafing through headshots, selecting who to kill? Because that’s exactly what they did. And the draft selection committee? Wholly premeditated. (Though I do think there must have been some instrumentality or secondary considerations with some of their picks, besides the cruelty-arousal factor — like with the variety-pack pardons of abusers, peppered in with the ones already chosen by 45’s direct associations.)

        And then they kill them in sketchy ways guaranteed to cause suffering over a PR look? Sick fucks. That sounds like an enhancement to me.

  29. Eureka says:

    Speaking of Rosen (as he shifts to the foreground), Barr and the big onion have apparently been the brakes, to date, on his (and allies’) Trump-fulfilling ambitions.

    Informative thread by Bill Kristol/his sources’ POV:

    “1. This thread is based on recent conversations with people whose information and judgment I trust, who in turn have spoken candidly with Trump appointees still on the inside. Here’s a question: Why did Trump and Barr, when they negotiated Barr’s departure, settle on Dec. 23?”
    https://twitter.com/BillKristol/status/1341488498700894214
    3:59 PM · Dec 22, 2020

    […]

    “5. …ranging from appointing special counsels for Hunter Biden or election fraud, to giving a legal ok for seizing voting machines or for various types of Insurrection Act-type moves by the president. Can one be confident Barr’s successor as AG, Jeffrey Rosen, will also say no?”

    “6. I’m told not. I’m told the very ambitious Rosen has pushed on earlier occasions for carrying out Trump’s will only to be stopped by Barr. And people who’ve worked with Rosen say they wouldn’t be surprised to see him, as AG, hasten to try to do Trump’s will.”

    “7. In the past, Rosen has been allied with some in the White House counsel’s office and others elsewhere in the White House who’ve been for going whole hog for Trump, as a friend put it. They’ve run up against resistance from Barr but also from WH Counsel Pat Cipollone.”

    “8. The departure of Cipollone would be a signal, as one person put it, that “all bets are off.””

    “9. I’m also reliably told senior military officials in the Pentagon are more, not less, alarmed than they were a few weeks ago when Mark Esper was fired. The new crew of Trump loyalists in the most senior civilian positions don’t seem there only to burnish their resumes, as…”

    […]

    If this is any attempt to paint Barr/Cipollone as weary heroes, it obviously fails — so I really just took it as useful information. Barr simply wanted out of the wet-work even too unseemly for him, as I raised above.

    So does this mean we should be taking bets on when Cipollone resigns, to leave the worst subjects of pardon palooza in other hands?

    Also makes a nice juxtaposition to those screenshots going round of Powell rt’ing screeds against Cipollone.

  30. dunnydone says:

    this is all a sad fucking joke and it’s not funny. The irony is Michael Cohen, of all people, said this would happen. Dave Chappelle told Letterman it was obvious the Russians were exploiting us.

    Cyber attacks, covid, corruption on levels unseen before, racial injustices and all the bad guys get a free pass.

    America is failing every single one of its tests… we are an F student. How do you explain this to kids that we live in just society when it’s literally not true. It’s just not, it’s rigged.

    All you good hearted lawyers should be fucking pissed. Because it’s bad faith lawyers who aren’t held accountable stacking the deck and fucking this country for our kids.

    This type of Shit would make Gandhi snap. Our founding fathers would be embarrassed but guess what their dead and not here.

    So here is a serious question? How do we fix this? How do we start getting good ideas out to the public, AG’s, congress etc etc

    I hope Dr. Wheeler’s ace in the hole post she is saving sets forth a road map because we need something smart, simple and devastatingly clever to rally around and push forward.

    Heading into 2021 my hope is that this site besides being a wonderful resource for the dissection of crimes and general fuckery having taken place… can also be a resource guide for what we need to do to change things.

    We are up against some unscrupulous devious motherfuckers intent on malice.

    My best to all of you. Many blessings and good vibes. Be safe and get ready for 2021… the fight continues and we need to level up for it

    • Chris.EL says:

      bmaz has taken all wind from my sail; wouldn’t it be great to have a mind to mind debate (bmaz v. Snyder) — or is this “settled law”? Cited case was from 1915.

      Time will tell and humans have long memories. We remember who the bad apples are.

      Nixon was pardoned, never contested, yet was pretty much persona-non-grata to the day he drew his last breath; still is.

      Still we must learn from these events. Stone and Manafort have been at this for 40+ years! Right? When I think of Manafort — he always strikes me as being the one with access to the money. Trump may not be returning to the White House!

  31. pdaly says:

    Speaking of executions,
    “The principle of command responsibility is well established in the laws of war, reflecting not only what is morally right, but also the importance of discipline to the accomplishment of the military mission. After the Second World War, a U.S. military tribunal convicted Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita for his troops’ torture and massacre of civilians in the Philippines. There was no evidence that Yamashita ordered or participated in the crimes. It was enough that he either knew or should have known and failed to prevent the atrocities or punish his troops. General Yamashita was executed. ”

    https://www.justsecurity.org/64288/can-a-pardon-be-a-war-crime-when-pardons-themselves-violate-the-laws-of-war/

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