In the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s prison sentence July 10, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional Democrats reacted with near hysteria. Some Republicans including Utah Sen. Mitt Romney also expressed concern.
Perhaps these individuals need to stop and take a deep breath because the right of a president to commute or pardon is crystal clear.
Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution conveys to the president “power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States except in cases of impeachment.”
Stone had been found guilty and sentenced to 40 months in prison for lying to investigators and witnesses.
We make no excuses for Stone’s behavior. It was simply wrong.
That being said, a solid case can be made for Trump’s commutation of a longtime friend.
At 67 years of age, Stone falls into the high-risk category for COVID-19. A 40-month prison term could well be a death sentence. The virus has hit the penal system particularly hard and hundreds of inmates have been released early because of their risk. The party of compassion should be leading cheers.
Second, it has been reported in the media that the jury forewoman had expressed anti-Trump bias, which calls the fairness of his trial in question.
Finally, it is unlikely Stone would have been ensnared in the justice system without the discredited Mueller investigation that wasted both time and treasure for over two years.
Trump at least had the courage to commute Stone’s sentence while several months away from the end of his first term. President Bill Clinton, in contrast, issued a pardon to Marc Rich, one of the biggest tax cheats in American history, hours before his second term ended.
Clinton is also remembered for his pardon of Susan McDougal, who was connected with the Clintons by the Whitewater scandal, as well as the pardon of his brother.
Some may also recall President Barack Obama’s pardon of the Puerto Rican terrorist. The former president commuted more than 1,100 sentences. Stone makes it 11 for Trump.
Pelosi is now making noise about legislation to restrict the pardon power of the president. Someone should clue her in that a constitutional amendment would likely be needed.
The speaker’s concern over pardons seems very selective and quite late coming. Do you think?