Analysis by WorldTribune Staff, July 13, 2020
It was expected that President Donald Trump’s commutation of former adviser Roger Stone’s prison sentence would be met with outrage from Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff and other Democrats/media who were deeply invested in the Russia hoax and all alleged scandals of the Trumpian kind.
When it comes to similar such moves by Democrat presidents, however, outrage was in short supply.
“Clemency for politically connected individuals knows no party monopoly,” Rowan Scarborough noted in a July 11 report for The Washington Times.
Before leaving the White House, President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of a major leaker of secret documents, former Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning, in a move critics say was motivated by LGBTQ politics.
Manning had been sentenced to 35 years in prison for what was the largest ever leak of classified data in U.S. history. After being held for seven years, Manning was released in May 2017. Manning later unsuccessfully ran for Senate as a Democrat.
Also in January 2017, Obama commuted the sentence of convicted Puerto Rican terrorist Oscar Lopez-Rivera.
Lopez-Rivera was considered a top leader of the Armed Forces of National Liberation, or FALN, an ultranationalist Puerto Rican group that claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings at government buildings, department stores, banks and restaurants in New York, Chicago, Washington and Puerto Rico during the 1970s and early 1980s.
“The same people clutching their pearls and shrieking about Stone’s commutation, I didn’t hear them complaining when Oscar Rivera was pardoned by President Obama. He was even too much of a terrorist for Clinton to pardon,” Harmeet Dhillon, of the Center for American Liberty, told “Fox & Friends.”
The politically tinged clemencies issued by another Democrat president, Bill Clinton, were chronicled by law Professor Albert W. Alschuler in a 2010 article for The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology.
Clinton pardoned his CIA director, John M. Deutch, who had agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified material. But Deutch had not filed a pardon request and the Clinton White House did not consult with prosecutors prior to issuing the pardon.
Perhaps most notable of Clinton’s acts of clemency came in the waning hours of his presidency on the morning of Jan. 20, 2001. Clinton granted a full pardon to fugitive financier Marc Rich, who was evading arrest abroad and had not faced justice.
Forbes estimated Rich’s net worth at $1 billion. His ex-wife Denise contributed over $1 million to the Democratic Party and candidates.
Clinton also commuted the sentence of mega-drug dealer Carlos Vignali, from 15 years to the completed six years. Vignali’s father had contributed over $160,000 to the California Democrats. The father also paid then-first lady Hillary Clinton’s brother, Hugh Rodham, over $200,000 to argue clemency to the White House.
Clinton also granted a full pardon to his half-brother, Roger Clinton, on a 1980s cocaine distribution conviction.
He also gave a full pardon to Henry Cisneros, his former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and his mistress, Linda Jones. Cisneros pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
As President Barack Obama was leaving office in January 2017, he also pardoned retired Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright.
Cartwright had pleaded guilty to a felony count of lying to the FBI about his role in leaking to the press details about a highly classified program that utilized a computer virus to damage Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
Obama’s Joint Chiefs vice chairman, Gen. Cartwright worked closely with the White House. He was to be sentenced in early 2017 prior to the executive clemency.
“The Cartwright pardon was a bit of a policy flip for Obama, whose administration aggressively hunted down and jailed press leakers. The Obama Justice Department, for example, approved bugging The Associated Press’s Washington bureau to identify and then convict one informant,” Scarborough noted.
Republican President George W. Bush’s most political clemency was likely that of Scooter Libby, former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.
A D.C. jury convicted Libby of lying to investigators in the Valerie Plame scandal. He received a stiff 30-month prison sentence, commuted by Bush. Trump in 2018 pardoned Libby outright.
In a statement released late Friday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump had made the decision to commute Stone’s sentence “in light of the egregious facts and circumstances surrounding his unfair prosecution, arrest, and trial.”
“Roger Stone is a victim of the Russia Hoax that the Left and its allies in the media perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump Presidency,” McEnany said.
“There was never any collusion between the Trump Campaign, or the Trump Administration, with Russia. Such collusion was never anything other than a fantasy of partisans unable to accept the result of the 2016 election. The collusion delusion spawned endless and farcical investigations, conducted at great taxpayer expense, looking for evidence that did not exist.”