Oh Gee? Pardon Me?

It is Saturday morning as I pen this, the G-7 Summit is still going on in Quebec, Canada but from the American standpoint I think I can already draw a conclusion. On another front the President’s newest toy appears to be his pardon power. There is plenty there, let’s explore.

President Trump caused a controversy as he departed the White House on Friday by proclaiming that Russia should be readmitted to the G-7 making it the G-8 again. Then he arrived at the meeting late with preannounced plans to leave early. One of the sessions that will be taking place after his departure is a discussion on climate change. Why would Trump attend that when he believes it is all a Chinese hoax (and the whole “Russia and trump thing” is a “Democrat hoax” in reaction to his “Landslide victory.”)

The G-7 is supposed to be a collection of the world’s largest democracies and economies. Russia qualifies on neither account. If you believe that Vladimir Putin’s Russia is a democracy I suggest you seek professional mental assistance. The G-7 consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, all of which are democracies with larger economies than Russia. (Economies measured by GDP. Source: IMF projections of 2018 GDPs.)  In fact South Korea’s economy is as large as Russia’s. They are an ally. Why isn’t Trump touting their inclusion? France, Germany, Italy and for the moment the UK are all members of the European Union which is the second largest economy next to America’s. Simply based on numbers including the EU would make more sense than including Russia. Excluding the EU, China has the second largest economy which is much larger than Russia’s. A better case (except for the democracy angle) can be made for their inclusion. The only logical conclusions are that Trump is woefully ignorant when it comes to global economics, is incapable of or unwilling to study, is beholden to Putin, all of or some combination of the above.

Coming late to “the party” may be a power play on Trump’s part. I’m sure he wanted to watch Fox and Friends before he went outside to lie to the assembled reporters. Leaving allies early in order to see a foe is an example of poor planning at best and insulting to those he may someday need at worst. If America is attacked do you really think Kim Jung-un is going to send assistance? Remember the only nation ever to benefit under Article 5 of the NATO agreement is the United States.

Trump’s first pardon was of Joe Arpiao who had been found guilty of contempt of court. Trump has absolute contempt of any court or judge whose ruling he doesn’t like. Arpiao’s root crime was racial discrimination; something Trump practiced in business and believes in.

Recently Trump pardoned Lewis “Scotter” Libby. Libby took the fall for his boss at the time, Dick Cheney, and was found guilty of obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements. Any of those charges sound familiar.

Then Trump pardoned alt-right talking head Dinesh D’Souza. D’Souza pled guilty to campaign finance violations. Accepting foreign contributions and paying off mistresses via campaign mechanisms are violations of federal campaign finance laws. I think I may have heard some credible allegations of such activities by Team Trump recently.

Trump has openly speculated that he may pardon Martha Stewart and Rod Blagojevich. Stewart was convicted on insider trading, former Democratic Governor of Illinois Blagojevich of an attempted pay-for-play scheme. To date insider trading hasn’t come up in the Mueller investigation but would you be surprised if it was in Trump’s business history? I wouldn’t. Trump and his “blind trusts” have made a mockery of the anti-pay-for-play Emoluments Clause.

The above pardons are all messages to his underlings to keep the faith that the Don will bail you out in the long run. Trump has also issued a couple of distraction pardons. One of a dead boxer and one of a long incarcerated non-violent drug offender. Both happened to be African-American, like Blagojevich is conveniently a Democrat. Those facts help add to the distraction factor, Trump doesn’t care about any of them and his largely racist base understands the hidden message.

Trump and his committee (who are they and why have we never heard of them before) are supposedly considering some 3,000 pardons – lots of potential distractions. That is part of the diabolical genius of this gambit; make pardons so commonplace that you can slip in a Paul Manafort, Donald Trump. Jr. or Hope Hicks and hope they get lost in the shuffle (at least in the public’s mind).

Friday Trump even speculated about pardoning Mohamed Ali.   One fly in that ointment; Ali’s conviction was overturned in 1971. Perhaps while he is at it Trump will pardon me. I’ve never even been arrested let alone convicted of a crime so I don’t need a pardon; neither does boxing legend Mohamed Ali.

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