Showing posts with label The President. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The President. Show all posts

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rove on Libby, Bush and Pardons

Question: You write that you keep a clipping about Scooter Libby's case to remind yourself of the cost of what happened. We've read that President Bush and Vice President Cheney argued about whether or not there should be a pardon for Libby.

Mr. Rove: I don't know if I would say argued. I'm not sure I would depict it as an argument. I was not there, but there was a discussion.

Question: Did you have a position?

Mr. Rove: This is an intense personal decision by the chief executive. I do know this: Governor Bush was loath to substitute his judgment as a governor for that of the legal system. The pardon power, which for a governor of Texas like the pardon power of the president is unlimited power, frankly concerns him. It's in the constitutions, the state and the national constitutions, but as a result, he is reluctant to exercise it. What I thought was extraordinary about what President Bush did was having this beliefthat absent compelling evidence of a miscarriage of justice that he is loath to substitute his opinion for that of a judge and a jury, that he stepped into the Libby matter and said I'm going to commute the sentence and declare an end to this. It's over. I'm not going to substitute my judgment for that of a judge and a jury absent compelling evidence of a miscarriage of judgment, but I am going to say that the judicial system imposed too serious a penalty.

Question: Do you think he should have gone further and gone for the pardon?

Mr. Rove: I'm going to respect his decision because he was involved intimately in the details of the case and had access to things I didn't have access to. Again, I do think this case shows the difficulty of the criminal justice system being used to referee political disputes. We diminish the criminal justice system when we use it to referee political disputes and we unnecessarily penalize political actors when we do. It went on far too long, exacted too high a cost from everyone involved. And for what reason?

See the complete interview in Pittsburgh Post here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Toussie to Return?

George Mason University's History News Network features this article, by Professor Jeffrey Crouch, which suggests Barack Obama should "start planning now" to meet Robert Isaack Toussie in court. Mr. Toussie, of course, was pardoned, then unpardoned by President Bush. Says Prof. Crouch:
It is unclear how - or if —a pardon once granted can be taken away by the president. At the very least, there needs to be a bright-line rule in this area, as none currently exists. If Toussie sues, President Obama will have to tie up that loose end somehow, and it won’t be easy ... He is unlikely to pardon the situation away, but he should not ignore it either. The case should proceed to trial - not so much for Toussie, but to clear up this murky area of the law for future clemency decisions by Obama and his successors.

Unfortunately, bright lines are not exactly the hallmark of clemency jurisprudence!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

MSNBC. Now That is Impressive!

MSNBC's "First Read," self-described as "the first place for key political news and analysis" reports here that Bernard Kerik "apparently lobbied" George W. Bush for a presidential pardon! The "news" was actualy first reported in the New York Daily News here. In a tribute to this blog and its well-informed readers, Mr. Kerik was on our Pardon Watch List as far back as January 17!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

No Pardon for Stevens

PardonPower never really bought into the suggestion that former Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens (R) was even in the same ball park as Scooter Libby. Still, in the face of all logic, some pressed the comparison and reveled in the opportunity to produce provocative headlines and mention President Bush, pardons and criminal behavior all in the same sentence. The 85-year old Stevens was, of course, convicted on seven counts of making false statements in financial disclosure forms.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Bush Pardons, I and II

It is by now well known that George W. Bush, like his father, was fairly stingy with respect to use of the pardon power. PardonPower previously noted that the son also seemed to favor the State of Texas in the distribution of grants (see chart here). Just to complete the picture, we ran the same analysis for the pardons granted by George H.W. Bush and this chart is what we came up with. It thus appears that the son and father were alike in more ways than one!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Hope, Change and One Less Secret Blanket Pardon

The Los Angeles Times reports President Obama has "left intact" a "controversial counter-terrorism tool" of the Bush administration via executive orders. As a result:
"... the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States. Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that the rendition program might be poised to play an expanded role going forward because it was the main remaining mechanism -- aside from Predator missile strikes -- for taking suspected terrorists off the street."
The Times notes the program "became a source of embarrassment for the CIA" and a target of international scorn." It was also condemned by The European Parliament as an "illegal instrument." See story here.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Comment: CYA Scorecard

In a previous post, we predicted C.Y.A. Season re the certain last-minute Bush pardon splurge would be both entertaining and well worth watching. Why were so many political observers so clueless? Well, this seems like a place to keep track of the "explanations" for train-wreck analysis as they emerge:

1. Bush did not want to remove 5th Amendment reasons not to testify (A re-tread. Can be used in almost any circumstance, but almost always after the fact)

2. Bush did splurge, as predicted. The pardons are just really secret! (Likely to remain a PardonPower favorite. Colorful, original and very much in the spirit of the original prognostications)

3. Bush preempted the need for preemptive pardons with executive privilege claims! (Who could have possibly seen this intricate strategy coming?!)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Comment: The Pardon Problem

The National Post features an editorial by Father Raymond J.De Souza which suggests President Bush was "spooked" by the "bad taste" left by Bill Clinton's last-minute pardon spree. But De Souza suggests Bush's "sparing use" of the pardon power "continued a trend of general unwillingness to use pardon and commutation powers as a regular part of the criminal justice system." And, he adds, the "sparing use" of the pardon power "can only be justified by a great confidence that the criminal justice system actually produces justice." Says De Sousa:
From long experience in prisons, my own judgment is that in Canada it is not unusual for men to be imprisoned for crimes that they did not commit. More common is the case of a man for whom the law prescribes a sentence that is legal, but not just. Most egregious, the parade these past years of spectacular wrongful convictions confirms that errors are made regularly -- and we only know about the most high-profile cases which come to light. The situation in the United States, where the power of the prosecutors is greater and sentences much stricter, can only be worse. Moreover, the reality is that the fearsome powers of the prosecutorial state are often brought to bear on the poor, the marginal and the weak, often so crushed by the state that they never even make it to trial before they plead guilty.
De Sousa argues that clemency is not "only an offer of mercy." It is also about "doing justice," because the very existence of the power recognizes that "in the criminal justice system errors happen, and that even when it works as it should it does not always produce a just outcome." See full editorial here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Reader Comments on the Toussie Pardon

The following is a response from a reader regarding the Washington Post editorial by Prof. Brian Kalt on the pardon - an unpardon - of Isaac Robert Toussie (linked here):

Kalt, I submit, is all wet. He says, for instance, that modern decisions step away from the old notion of pardons as "acts of grace," but he doesn't cite any. Perhaps he is thinking of the Perovich case, which isn't that modern. I thought Justice Holmes was absolutely right in that case when he said a pardon is a decision of the president in the public interest, and that should be that. But then he backed off near the end of his ruling, limiting it to commutations and leaving Burdick intact for pardons. President Ford, for one, was happy about that. The Burdick ruling was a key factor in Ford's decision to pardon former President Nixon. When Nixon refused to acknowledge his crimes, or even his obstruction of justice, in signing for the pardon, Ford consoled himself with the Burdick doctrine that acceptance is an admission of guilt.

The President: Denied!

While there is no shortage of articles floating around out there about persons who applied for a presidential pardon and failed to get one, this article by Josh Meyer takes the time to focus on clamency applications which were explicitly denied by President Bush. Among the denials were Randall ``Duke'' Cunningham, Edwin Edwards, Mario Biaggi, Michael Milken, John Walker Lindh, Justin Volpe, Leonard Peltier. Meyer notes:
Such denials can be a serious setback for those intent on clemency. After a denial a petitioner must wait two years to re-apply for a pardon and one year for a commutation of a prison sentence, although they can also circumvent the Justice Department and appeal directly to the White House whenever they want. In some cases, a presidential denial can be a setback in other ways as well, and make it harder politically for the next administration to approve it, according to several current and former administration officials involved in the pardon process.
The last thought seems a stretch, especially when there is a change in the partisan identification of the president. Nonetheless, it seem fair to say that these denials should be part of any analysis of President Bush's record on federal executive clemency.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Kalt on the Toussie Pardon

The Washington Post features an editorial entitled, "Once Pardoned, Always Pardoned," by Brian C. Kalt an associate professor at Michigan State University College of Law. Kalt essentially argues that George Lardner Jr.'s position on the pardon and un-pardon of Isaac Robert Toussie is "wrong at nearly every turn."

In Kalt's view, "Delivery and acceptance are not required to make a pardon effective ... once issued, a pardon is a pardon." Of course, this simply begs the question. When is a pardon "issued?" More convincingly, Kalt references the master warrant that listed Toussie's name (attached here). It states: "After considering the applications for executive clemency . . . I hereby grant full and unconditional pardons to the following named persons." Kalt observes the Justice Department announced the pardon "to the world" and contacted Toussie (or his lawyer). Thus, it "sounds quite final."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Context: More on Toussie

Harlan J. Protass, a criminal defense lawyer in New York and an adjunct professor at the Cardozo School of Law has written a piece in the Chicago Tribune on George Bush's pardon - and unpardon - of Isaac Robert Toussie.

Protass takes the position that Toussie's pardon "became effective and irrevocable as soon as it was announced to the world." As a result, "it couldn't be taken back." In reaching this conclusion, he rejects "several long-forgotten Supreme Court cases" and the "ill-conceived and outdated notion" of the necessity of delivery and acceptance of pardons. He also adds that this approach "finds no support in the Constitution or English law traditions." Highlighting a point that we have locked into for some time now, Protass notes that, in the case of posthumous pardons, "delivery and acceptance pose unique problems for someone who is dead." So, the piece calls on Barack Obama to make a "clean break" from Bush and "validate Isaac Toussie's pardon. " See the complete editorial here.

Friday, January 23, 2009

OMG: Unprecedented Double Secret Preemptive Blanket Turbo Pardons!

The Raw Story reports (and the Daily Kos is on top of the "blockbuster") that "observers" are wondering about the lack of last-minute controversial pardons in the Bush administration. Assuming, of course, that Bush is the Anti-Christ, there must be some explanation for his behavior which underscores his evil nature. It could not possibly be related to his sparing use of the pardon power in Texas, or his sparing use of the power in eight years as president. No way. Too empirical and "neutral" sounding. Boring. So, Keith Olbermann asks, with great concern, "Could he have pardoned more people than we know?" And who better to ask than John Dean, who - unlike other Watergate criminals - has yet to win a presidential pardon for himself and has been calling for Bush's impeachment for years!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Watch List: Cheney on Libby, Again

The Weekly Standard is featuring an article on former Vice President Dick Cheney which highlights the notion that Cheney "disagreed publicly with his boss just four times in the eight years they served together." But, of course, Cheney also disagreed with Bush's decision not to pardon Scooter Libby, whom Cheney describes as "victim of a serious miscarriage of justice." Interestingly, the article also notes "two sources" believe that the White House was "concerned with public relations and simply did not want to defend or justify a Libby pardon." What happened to the President who proudly did not take public opinion polls before doing what is right? See story here.

Iowa: A Pardon Success Story

Tony Ley has a piece at the DesMoines Register about 52-year old Phillip Emmert whose 27-year no-parole prison sentence was commuted by George W. Bush two years ago. Ley notes Emmert spent 14 years in federal prison "for selling methamphetamine to support a drug habit."

But by all accounts, his life out of prison has been a success - getting a job, being promoted, caring for his wife, being active in his church, etc. Emmert also has opinions about the pardon power. Referring to President Bush, he said:
"If I were [the President], I'd call the pardon attorney and say, 'Give me a list. I know there's got to be deserving people out there. Give me a list, so I can help some people on my way out of here.' "
Emmert is now said to be optimistic in his hope that President Obama will consider easing the Nation's strict anti-drug laws, which have sent thousands of nonviolent offenders to prison for years or decades. But, according to Ley, Emmert believes the "first step" would be to create "a more open atmosphere at the Office of the Pardon Attorney," the Justice Department agency that screens requests for pardons and commutations. Says Emmert:

"There's got to be other people out there who deserve this," he said of his reprieve. "Their job should be to look for those people. It shouldn't be just to rubber-stamp every application, 'No.'"
We could not have said it any better. Great reporting Tony. Best of luck, Phillip. See story here.

* This story was visited by the Executive Office of the President of the United States on 12/8/2015 and 3/29/2016

Monday, January 19, 2009

The President: Doh! They're All Idiots!

James Ross (Salon) - "So don't be surprised if some time before Inauguration Day 2009, President George W. Bush issues a blanket presidential pardon to ensure that those who organized and implemented brutal interrogation techniques such as "waterboarding" (a terrifying simulated drowning) are never hauled before the courts ... There is the distinct possibility that in his administration's waning days Bush will issue a preemptive pardon for all those who have or may have committed federal crimes relating to detainee interrogations."

Talking Points Memo (on the above quote): "That sounds about right to me."

Brent Budowsky (The Hill) -"Before leaving office George W. Bush will issue a mass pardon, the largest collection of presidential pardons in American history. Bush will pardon himself, Vice President Cheney, and a long list of officials involved in torture, eavesdropping, destruction of evidence, the CIA leak case and a range of potential crimes ... Get ready for mass pardons."

Hoyt Hilsman (Huffington Post) - "It is quite possible that a batch of midnight pardons next Monday could cast a pall over the historic inauguration of Barack Obama, stealing the limelight with last-minute controversy."

Frank Rich (New York Times) - In an article entitled, "Why Libby's Pardon is a Slam Dunk." ... "Even by Washington’s standards, few debates have been more fatuous or wasted more energy than the frenzied speculation over whether President Bush will or will not pardon Scooter Libby. Of course he will ... The only real question about the pardon is whether Mr. Bush cares enough about his fellow Republicans’ political fortunes to delay it until after Election Day 2008. Either way, the pardon is a must for Mr. Bush ... Mr. Bush will no doubt pardon Scooter Libby without so much as a second thought"

Paul Begala (Huffington Post) - "George W. Bush will pardon Karl Rove."

Paul Begala (on CNN) - “The president is going to pardon Scooter Libby. He’s going to plead guilty and then Bush is going to pardon him.”

John Podhoretz (New York Post) - "In his last days as president, George W. Bush will pardon Scooter Libby ... Bush won't leave office without issuing that pardon."

Al Kamen (Washington Post) - Was going to give out a t-shirt to whomever could best guess when the Libby pardon would fall. Keep in in the drawer Al.

Brent Budowsky (OpEd News) - "As President Bush prepares his final pardons that will probably include those who committed acts of torture ..."

David Swanson (Global Research) - "As we approach W's last day in office, on which I'm willing to bet you he issues some sweeping pardons of crimes he himself authorized ..."

American Freedom Campaign - "Now, President Bush is poised to give each and every one of his accomplices -- from Dick Cheney to Karl Rove to Alberto Gonzales -- a full pardon, ensuring that they will never receive the punishments they deserve for their activities."

Eleanor Clift (McClaughlin Group) - "... And you're now going to see Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling appeal, and those appeals can go on for quite a while, and then they can count on President Bush to try to commute their sentences ... I wonder if they'll ever serve hard time ... Yeah, I think it would be hard for him to pardon. But I'm thinking there's some way to commute their sentence to time served or to lessen it. I don't see them spending decades or a decade behind bars ... I'll say yes, he's going to [pardon them], okay."

Sunny Hostin (CNN) - At the end of a"report," Hostin said we will see "something like" President Clinton's controversial last-minute pardons "from President Bush as well." Indeed, said she, we will see something "much, much more controversial coming."

Peter Smith (Huffington Post) - "One year from now, George W. Bush will almost certainly celebrate the end 2008 - and his term of office - with a festive round of questionable pardons and, possibly, even a few Scooter Libby-like commutations."

Matthew Rothschild ( - "The only thing that dampens my cheer at the Scooter Libby sentence is the lead-pipe likelihood of a Bush pardon ... Here's why Libby will be pardoned well before Christmas 2008, and well before Christmas 2007 ..."

And last, but certainly not least, Daphne Eviatar (Washington Independent) - who, deep in the night, still has a story entitled, "No Last-Minute Pardons for Torture, So Far ... "

Keep the faith Daphne!

The President: Done with Pardons?

CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller is reporting no more acts of executive clemency are expected from President Bush. The New York Times says "senior administration officials" have reported the same thing. FOX News quoted White House Press Secretary Dana Perino as saying the commutations would be Bush's last acts of clemency.


No unprecedented- blanket-preemptive-turbo-amnesties (UB-PTA's) for"war crimes"? How can this be? Hmm. Maybe they are just not "expected" now? No! Wait! Bush is going to resign and Cheney is going to grant the rest of the pardons, tonight and tomorrow morning! They are Bush's last acts of clemency! That's it! OK, finger off of the panic button.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Utah: Request

Weldon Angelos is in the 5th year of his prison sentence. He is scheduled to be released 50 years from now because a three-round sting operation caught him selling a total of eight ounces of marijuana for the grand sum of $350. In each instance, the "buyer" (who was up for conviction on much more serious charges involving drugs and firearms and trying to gain favor with prosecutors) tried to coax Angelos into involvement in more serious crimes. But, each time, Angelos declined the invitations and, eventuality, refused to even talk to the informant.

About a month later, Angelos was cited for carrying a concealed weapon. When the informant reported the incident to law enforcement officials, police reports were then amended to suggest that he (Angelos) had been carrying a weapon during the above-mentioned marijuana sales. And that is when a federal grand jury indicted Weldon on three counts. Before trial, 17 additional counts were added, including a count for handguns found in Weldon's home (his father was a firearms aficionado) and two more counts for handguns found in his girlfriend's home. None of the firearms were illegally obtained. The government then refused to plea bargain.

Alaska: Senator Supports Pardon of Former Senator

KTUU Channel 2 (NBC) reports Sen. Lisa Murkowski has asked President Bush to pardon former Sen. Ted Stevens. But, as of Friday, the Department of Justice says no formal application has been filed. KTTU says Murkowski's request "is a reversal of sorts." On December 8, at a joint press conference, both of Alaska's senators said they would not ask Bush for a pardon of Stevens. See story here.

Countdown: CYA Time Approaches

You may recall all of the punditry that came from the web and the traditional media regarding Scooter Libby. For months, the line among the most cautious was that Bush would "have to pardon" Libby, or Libby would "go to prison." Among the bloggers (whose analyses and predictive abilities are held to even less accountability), it was more like "Of course, Bush will pardon Libby, stupid!" Of course, it turned out that Bush did not pardon Libby but Libby did not go to prison. The whole impressive structure was fatally flawed ... fun to look at, amusing, head-line grabbing, but all the more silly looking when it crashed, especially when some suddenly attempted to feign surprise that Bush acted at all (granting a commutation of a portion of the sentence).

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