Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Campaign 08: Bob Barr in the Race

Yes, Bob Barr, Libertarian, says he is in the race! It appears that Mr. Barr has not left the longest trail of statements regarding the pardon power, and most of what seems to be out there is related to the fairly narrow topic of Bill Clinton and Marc Rich. Barr delivered a classic line on NewsHour, for example, in regard to the Clinton-feigned-ignorance routine and the Marc Rich pardon. Barr quipped:

It's like Keystone Cops. But I don't think it is. I think the President knew exactly what he was doing. You didn't request information so you could probably say, "I don't know." In other words, have you ever heard of the concept of deliberate ignorance? Well, maybe not. Most prosecutors have.
Barr also suggested the congressional report on the Marc Rich pardon should be entitled, "Justice Undone. Corruption Well Done." In the aftermath of the last-minute Clinton pardons (or as Mr. Barr put it, "the pardon orgy), he sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney General which read, in part:

Contrary to long-established and consistent precedent, former President Clinton did not issue separate clemency grants for each individual. Instead he signed a single document entitled, 'Executive Grant of Clemency,' listing 138 persons by name, under the following statement: AFTER CONSIDERING THE REQUESTS for executive clemency of the following named persons, I hereby grant full and unconditional pardons to the following named persons for those offenses against the United States described in each such request: As a result, and as further explained in my February 9, 2001 letter, these 44 persons "could not" - and did not - receive pardons" ... This is patently - and constitutionally - improper.
"Master" warrants of this type have actually been used, on a consistent basis, since the Eisenhower administration. So, it is safe to assume the complaint didn't go very far. Still hanging on, in 2005, Barr wrote an editorial which criticized the Bush administration because:

... it chose not to inquire into the stench surrounding several of outgoing President Clinton's last-minute pardons, despite evidence that at least one --- fugitive fraud financier Marc Rich --- may have been procured at least in part by sizable donations through Rich's ex-wife, Denise, to the Clinton "presidential library" fund.
On CNN's Crossfire, Barr called Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon "outrageous" but, at the same time, criticized Clinton's pardons because Clinton "did not follow normal procedures." After having "studied" the question, Barr had decided that "no president" before Clinton "did what he did to the magnitude and number of midnight pardons that he issued" nor had "any other president skirted the Department of Justice and his own prosecutors" the way Clinton did.

PardonPower would just love to know what documents/sources were studied to reach this conclusion, but we offer to readers the only solid piece of empirical research on the topic that we are aware of here. One wonders if Barr would have used the "pardon orgy" line had he been around in the administrations of say Adams, Buchanan, Eisenhower, or Washington (keep in mind the month represented on the far right of each chart is not a complete month). And what is his view of what went on in the administrations of G.H.W. Bush , Carter , Nixon(2)/Ford and Reagan? Nonetheless, Barr made this interesting point along the way:

There is something you can do about it. If you have a president who issues pardons on a regular basis during his administration, the people do have some recourse. You can throw them out of office, for one thing, but when you do it at the last minute by subverting justice, there's nothing the people can do.

Perhaps we can learn more about Mr. Barr's opinions regarding the pardon power generally - if he has any - in the days and weeks to come. PardonPower may even send an e-mail his way and see what happens. Look for an update.

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