There it is in the Constitution: The president “shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States.” No question about it: President Donald Trump, who claims all kinds of omnipotence that he doesn’t really have, is right in this case. He can, without question, pardon or commute a sentence for a federal crime anytime, anywhere while he’s chief executive. What’s pathetic is when such absolute authority is announced in the mealy-mouthed Friday Night Dump, or Friday News Dump.
It’s a weaselly tactic, used by many presidents. Based on the premise that Saturday news interest is low, administrations announce stories that embarrass them late on a Friday night. It’s nothing new. It got to the point that White House reporters made no unbreakable weekend plans during the Clinton years, because Bill Clinton and his Clintonistas regularly used the Friday Night Dump. The Trumpster did not invent the Friday Dumpster.
Nor was it a surprise that he waited until late at night to announce that he’d be commuting Roger Stone’s 40-month sentence, which was about to begin a few days later. Stone was convicted of seven counts relating to obstructing a congressional investigation, lying under oath and threatening a witness. However, he had the good fortune of a long relationship as a dirty tricks adviser to Donald Trump. So it was not a matter of “if” but “when,” and it was the last Friday before Stone would have to surrender to prison authorities.
Not only did the Trump sneak attack happen in the dark of night, but it was even more pitiful when he hid behind a White House statement, not from him, but in the name of his press secretary and main translator these days, Kayleigh McEnany. It was riddled with the usual resentments, grievances and falsehoods that show she is certainly on message, and all the Democrats could do was sputter. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was perhaps the chief sputterer, calling the commutation a case of “staggering corruption” and promising to “ensure that no president can pardon or commute the sentence of an individual who is engaged in a cover-up campaign to shield that president from criminal prosecution.”


Two observations about her statement: First of all, that’s a promise she cannot keep, because the Constitution says so. Secondly, note that Pelosi didn’t go live with her reaction; her people released a statement. She was nowhere near a camera. Her momma didn’t raise no fool. She wasn’t about to let Donny Trump ruin her Friday night.
And it wasn’t only Democrats, but the Democrats’ favorite Republican Mitt Romney, who tweeted “Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president.”
Then POTUS went out to play golf. He put the controversy behind him, as well as the spike in COVID that has forced this nation to its knees. Even now, the explosion of cases has exposed a continuing shortage of personal protective equipment and a ridiculous turnaround time before those who are lucky enough to get tested get their results. It’s up to two weeks, rendering the tests almost useless. How could these shortages continue so many months into this deadly pandemic that has taken the lives of so many Americans?
How did this wave of cases happen, anyway? Was it due to the fact that Republican governors of several red states buckled under the pressure from President Trump, and rushed into a reopening too soon with predictable results? That’s exactly what caused this lethal resurgence. So is Donald Trump finally learning his lesson? No. He’s now pressuring schools to open up in a few weeks.
Happily, that’s up to local officials. He doesn’t have the power to decide that, like he does with pardoning his cronies late on a Friday night.

© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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