Much to the media's surprise, rioters, relatives, and Trump himself got no Trump pardons
The press and assorted Democrats were rubbing and wringing their hands with glee: Trump would issue late-hour pardons. He'd pardon the rioters. He'd pardon his relatives. He'd pardon Rudy Giuliani. He'd pardon Julian Assange, Reality Winner, and Edward Snowden. He'd pardon himself, which was what really got them going.
Headines ran like this:
Trump Is Said to Have Discussed Pardoning Himself -New York Times
CNN's Jake Tapper seemed close to taking bets, tweeting:
Get your pardon predictions in ASAP below— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 19, 2021
Turns out the pardon list was pretty anti-climactic. Here's the list.
No pardon for Ivanka. No pardon for Jared Kushner. No pardon for Assange and Snowden. No self-pardon for Trump. The press had been beating its wings for weeks about the dreadfulness of it all and all Trump gave them was ... nothing.
All they got was thin gruel from the pardons that did happen, typical pardons, the kinds of pardons all presidents make, sometimes of friends, sometimes for mildly politically useful reasons. All of them, every one.
Among Trump's there were very few to glom onto.
An odd crony, Steve Bannon, whom Trump doesn't seem to have spoken to in years, somehow got one, and seemingly not for a very good reason - he had been accused of defrauding investors in his wall project, which apparently never happened. Not a nice picture. News reports said there was a lot of back and forth. But perhaps that prosecution was dubbed politically motivated by Trump, same as the other ones of former Trump officials who clearly were prosecuted for process crimes for political reasons. Gen. Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, a few others, who fell in that category. Verdict on this? Nothing unusual.
Another eyebrow raiser, done as a favor for Israel's Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, was that of Aviem Sella, the Israeli spy who recruited Jonathan Pollard. In light of Trump's friendship with Israel, it's perhaps understandable.
Others, of rappers Lil Wayne and a couple of others, for lowlife-style crimes, was clearly Trump's signal that he had no intention of burning bridges with the black young men who vote, and who consider some these musicians their heroes. Again, not perfect, but understandable, and certainly not the worst thing on the pardon front we've seen. Snoop Dogg said he was impressed, and that's fine. These people, after all, aren't Marc Rich.
But there were no relatives pardoned, no Rudy Giuliani pardoned, and no self-pardon, which the press was so obsessed about. None of these people had committed crimes. And while it's true that the far left and all its deep state operatives may try to come after them, a pre-emptive pardon is probably not going to help, not with what they are capable of. Far more likely, a pre-emptive pardon would draw their attention to the idea that they might have actually done something wrong, and there is no sign they did. Trump's kids and other relatives sacrificed a lot to help their father, and some of them were unusually useful. Jared Kushner, who forged some of the most glittering Middle Eastern peace agreements, can take a bow, for one. Far from pardon, Kushner deserves a presidential medal of freedom.
The remainder were mostly low level crooks, people who'd been overpunished, and other sad sacks, receiving the benefit of presidential mercy, which in terms of justice, is far better than the terrorists, drug dealers, and pay-for-play acts that presidents Obama, Clinton and other Democrats have done.
While we are at it, let's look at numbers on just straight pardons.
Jimmy Carter: 534
John F. Kennedy: 472
Ronald Reagan: 393
Gerald Ford: 382
Barack Obama: 212
George W. Bush: 198
George H.W. Bush: 74
Donald Trump: 70, plus, apparently the new list of 73.
That's a pretty tight record, compared to nearly all of the others.
One thing is sure, too: Joe Biden is likely to top it. Anyone want to take bets on Hunter Biden? It's a presidential privilege, and if we don't like it, we can ask Congress to change it. Given the number of congressional miscreants who get them from presidents on both sides of the aisle, well, good luck with that.
While the press was left empty with no Trump self-pardon, for those who get them, it's a huge relief. Trump may have been kind of stingy with pardons, but he did extend another act of clemency, sort of like a pardon, that was extremely generous and heartening:
President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced he will offer Venezuelan exiles protection from deportation, a move he has considered for years but refused to do until his last full day in office.
Trump is using the little-known Deferred Enforced Departure program, or DED, to offer temporary legal status to Venezuelans fleeing the humanitarian crisis brought on by Nicolás Maduro’s regime. DED, similar to Temporary Protected Status or TPS, protects recipients from deportation and allows them to get work permits. However, it is granted directly by the president instead of the Department of Homeland Security.
It was sort of like extending a hand to a friend - Venezuelan-Americans after all voted for Trump in Florida in droves, they're known as MAGAzolanos in those parts, and with many still bringing family members in to save them from starvation, they needed a helping hand on deportations. LIke the pardons, Trump was helping his friends. And it made sense. They were, after all, people who fled a socialist hellhole, so the protection extended is a standing rebuke to all those in Congress and the press, who tell us socialism is just dandy. Besides socialism, they also fled election fraud -- Venezuela has famously rigged elections. It's not as if they've been voting for this socialist mess as some refugess from other places have -- they've been voting and seeing their votes cancelled. That alone puts them in empathy with President Trump and the sentiment has been returned.
Sure, the left will try to exploit the clemency as reason to allow in all comers from Central America, Africa, and Asia. But they were already planning to do that, no act or non-act from Trump was going to change their mind. And heck, they didn't intend to offer merely protection from deportation, they intended to offer full blown citizenship, plus free health care, stimulus checks, and benefit packages. Protection from deportation, for them, and to all the world, including places where the locals just keep voting socialist, is just a start.
But Trump got there first, and offered the protection, not Joe Biden. Venezuelans, therefore, are going to remember, and stick to, Trump. That works a lot better than letting Joe Biden do it. Trump's pardons are small in number, but they aren't selfish, they aren't corrupt, and they aren't the juicy "relatives and self" stuff to excite Jake Tapper. They just extend mercy where it's needed, which is the only thing that can be said of this small parting Trump list.
Image: White House screen shot // public domain