When Trump was in power he let numerous drug dealers out of prison, pardoned a former drug trafficker, used her as the face of his campaign Super Bowl commercial and invited her as his special guest to the State of the Union. https://t.co/cFRAopkdFP— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) September 5, 2022
Swan may have been referring to Alice Marie Johnson, whom Trump did not pardon but whose sentence he commuted, probably justifiably. Alternatively, Swan was referring to Jonathan Braun, described here as a "prolific predatory lender," who was additionally
finally sent to a prison north of New York City to serve a 10-year sentence for the drug charges. While he was there, New York’s attorney general sued him for usury, fraud, and harassment related to his lending. But then, in January 2021, he secured a last-minute grant of clemency from Trump. His sentence was commuted, and he was released. “Pardon Frees a Drug Smuggler Known for Violence and Threats,” as the New York Times put it in a front-page story.
It appears Braun thereupon returned to ripping off people left and right. That, combined with other drug pushers granted leniency by President Trump, suggests that Donald Trump is a hypocrite.
Nonetheless, there may be another factor. In November of 2018, CNN's Jim Acosta asked the President "but do you think that you demonized immigrants in this election?" Trump did not merely say "no" and proceed to ridicule or condemn Acosta, nor did he maintain that there are too many migrants heading to the border. Instead, he replied
Not at all. No, not at all. I want them to come into the country but they have to come in legally. You know, they have to come in, Jim, through a process. I want it to be a process. And I want the people to come in. And we need the people.
You may legitimately contend that arguing that immigrants entering the country was fine with the President as long as they were separated from other members of their family, worked for sub-human wages, and/or received no benefits or any help from the federal government.
Or maybe Trump really did want more immigrant workers. After Acosta responded "your campaign..." the President continued "Wait. Wait. Wait. You know why we need those people, don't you? Because we have hundreds of companies moving in. We need the people."
It's unlikely this got much play on Fox News, Newsmax, OAN, Breitbart, or any part of the conservative media sphere, and otherwise it certainly did not. It didn't pierce the consciousness of the public or political power players that Mr. "They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people” was advocating increased immigration.
As President, on at least this one occasion, Trump had pivoted to a traditional Republican approach on immigration, in which the newcomers are to be welcomed because they provide a cheap source of labor for the rich and powerful. Tellingly, this repartee with Acosta did not occur during a tight job market, when jobs allegedly are plentiful and going begging for workers, but when there were too few opportunities for job seekers and wages low.
It was a nod and a wink to the GOP establishment, one taken while the public, especially his supporters on the street- weren't paying attention.
Perhaps the media didn't believe the President because there was plenty on record to indicate that he was hostile toward immigrants, legal or illegal.
But there is another story to be told. Aside from his other, almost innumerable faults, Donald Trump engages in strategic hypocrisy, as he has with comments and actions toward drug dealers. Although admittedly he is very conservative, corrupt, crude, and bigoted, Trump is not stupid. He will contradict himself, trim his sails, or intentionally obfuscate an issue when it serves his political or financial interests.
That contradicts the unofficial, but pervasive, narrative that President 45 is stupid, crazy, or so impulsive as to be self- destructive. Donald Trump surely has mesmerized some 30-50% of the American public, those who would follow him off a cliff if he were to ask or defend him lustily if he is seen shooting someone on 5th Avenue. However, maybe a lot of the rest of us also have been duped, to his ongoing advantage.