Monday, August 28, 2017

Suppressing Testimony

The "law-and-order" president has struck again.

Pardoning former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio for violating a federal court order, President Trump did not wait for an application, sentencing, admission of guilt, or expression of remorse. A political scientist and authority on presidential pardons wrote

Hundreds of persons have applied for clemency and have waited for years, some for 10 or 15. Imagine how demoralized they must feel now. Now, more gasoline will be poured on the classic misconception that clemency is only for famous persons, rich people, political supporters, insiders, the "connected.

It doesn't help that the indivdual in question, who defied the rule of law by defying a court order, is dangling the possibility of running for the United States Senate.

Still, aside from the individuals who have actually applied for clemency, no one cares. Most Americans already realized the famous, wealthy and powerful get preferential treatment and many of them- in a spectacular case of cognitive dissonance- cast their presidential vote for a guy famous, wealthy, and powerful man whose business model relied on intimidation, deception, and corruption.

Two Democratic members of Congress have a better idea. We learned from Politico 

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Saturday that President Donald Trump's pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio could reverberate in the Russia investigation.

The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee wrote on Twitter that Trump-aligned witnesses might be inclined to not cooperate with investigators, since the president has shown his willingness to pardon allies.

"Arapio action was appalling & political. It also sends a message to the witnesses in the Russia investigation to keep quiet, stay loyal & get pardon," Schiff tweeted on Saturday afternoon.

And Raw Story reported that Connecticut Senator Richard

Blumenthal — who has gone toe-to-toe with Trump in previous media skirmishes about the Russia investigation — told anyone counting on a “get out of jail free” card from the president that their options may be more limited than they currently realize.

“Any witness counting on a Russia investigation pardon should think again,” he wrote on Twitter. “Trump’s loyalty is limited, witnesses can still be compelled to testify, and the pardons apply only to federal crimes.”

Unfortunately, if they refuse to testify and thus are cited for contempt, the President then can pardon them prospectively for that offense. It is, further, unlikely that any of Trump's cronies will heed their warning.

But if other Democrats join in, there might be some effect. They will make it clear that people are on to Trump, that they recognize that he is sending a message to the rats on his ship to keep quiet. It reeks of obstruction of justice, an effort to keep shut people up. The widespread recognition that they are following marching orders from the White House may make them uncomfortable and persuade them to be less relcutant to keep quiet or develop amnesia.

It's not much. But it surely beats Democrats going on to the next shiny object as they forget about the predictable, yet reprehensible pardon of the former Maricopa County concentration camp commandant.

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