Trump’s Pardons Are the Most Corrupt of Any President

Pardons have been controversial from the beginning. But in the last few decades, presidents have used them for political and personal gains, making them a sick joke on democracy.

Presidents have the power to hand out pardons like get out of jail free cards.
Presidents have the power to hand out pardons like get out of jail free cards.
Presidents have the power to hand out pardons like get out of jail free cards.

Controversial From the Beginning

The Founding Fathers, quite paradoxically, modeled the presidential pardon after the royal prerogative of mercy, an old English law that allows the monarch to overturn death sentences or other harsh punishments. Of course, numerous state delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 insisted that this provision was antithetical to the very point of the country. They reasoned that a president that has this much power is essentially installing a new king, which they had just fought to escape.

Depravity From Nixon to Trump

Most presidents have used their pardoning powers in controversial ways, but beginning with Nixon they became far more political and personal. For example, Nixon pardoned Jimmy Hoffa who was the president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and convicted of tax evasion in 1964. Hoffa was a Nixon supporter and major donor. Some assert the pardon was part of a deal to make Nixon seem like union supporter in his reelection campaign and a ploy by acting IBT president Fitzsimmons to stay in power.

Clipping the Wings of the President

So, what’s the solution? One idea is to elevate the role of the Office of the Pardon Attorney. Part of the Department of Justice, it’s role is to merely assist the president when making pardons. Instead, a pardon should require the consent of the Pardon Attorney. Even better, the Attorney General should have to sign on as well. Even though both positions are under the president’s purview and subject to his or her will, this idea would curb the president’s capriciousness and corruption.

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