Bill Clinton pardoned his own brother for felony distribution of cocaine. And a key witness in the Whitewater scandal for which he and Hillary Clinton were under investigation. And three others convicted in independent counsel Ken Starr’s probe. And Marc Rich, in what was a straight up political payoff. And his CIA director. And his HUD secretary. And eight people convicted in an investigation of his Agriculture Department.
No surprise there: The Clintons and their supporters then, like Trump and his supporters now, regarded the special-prosecutor probes into the administration as witch hunts.
Clinton also commuted the sentences of convicted terrorists, some of whom hadn’t even asked for clemency. Shameless as he was, though, even he couldn’t bring himself to pardon Oscar Lopez Rivera, the defiantly unrepentant FALN leader.
President Obama took care of that.
Obama also commuted the sentence of a U.S. soldier who passed top-secret information to WikiLeaks. He pardoned his former Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chairman, who’d been convicted of making false statements about a leak of classified information to the New York Times. And when he couldn’t get Congress to amend federal drug laws the way he wanted them amended, Obama used the pardon power to slash hundreds of sentences, under an executive initiative later sharply criticized by the Obama-appointed DOJ inspector general.
That doesn’t even account for the Obama administration’s penchant for making sure things never got to the pardon stage by distorting the law to give Hillary Clinton — the same Hillary Clinton who was nearly indicted in the aforementioned Clinton-era scheme — a pass, asserting executive privilege to obstruct the Fast and Furious investigation (for which Obama’s attorney general was held in contempt of Congress), ignoring his CIA director’s spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and turning a blind eye to the abuses of power and obstructions attendant to the scandal that engulfed his IRS.
So, as abuses of the pardon power go — and they do go — I can’t get too whipped up over President Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s 40-month sentence for non-violent criminal obstruction of a bogusly based and ridiculously over-prosecuted investigation.