Trump's latest pardons are moves to corrupt laws that he stands accused of breaking himself
There are no non-corrupt justifications for Donald Trump’s latest batch of pardons. None. There’s no nuance to them, or but on the other hand reasons why these particular politically connected criminals and conspirators against their nation ought to have their punishments nullified after their criminal acts have been proven—including with admissions of their own guilt.
George Papadopoulos worked as an adviser for Trump’s 2016 campaign. It was Papadopoulos who bragged to an alarmed Australian official that Russia was offering to help the Trump campaign by anonymously releasing information intended to damage opponent Clinton, one of multiple acts by the Trump campaign that caught the eye of this nation’s intelligence services as Russia mounted an unprecedented hacking and propaganda campaign aimed at promoting their own choice of American president.
But Papadopoulos lied to the federal agents investigating Russia’s espionage on behalf of Trump, as did numerous other Trump campaign officials—and Trump has repeatedly issued pardons and otherwise worked to dismantle the prosecution of each campaign official who lied about the campaign’s actions. He continues to use the pardon power to reward and immunize those in his circle who have the most information as to what he, personally, knew of the Russian scheme and how he and his family responded to it.
There is only one possible motivation for this, and we all know what it is.
The reasons for Trump’s pardons of a trio of corrupted and disgraced House Republicans are similarly unobscured. This is because Trump is genuinely a malignant narcissist, in the clinical sense of the phrase, and is so impaired by delusional self-regard that he sees all world events as machinations designed to either celebrate him or discredit him.
Duncan Hunter, along with his wife, was caught stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his campaign for his own personal use and for his family. It was straight-up theft of donor money, and Hunter eventually pled guilty. Some of the money was used by Hunter to cheat on his wife in secret affairs.
This sounds exactly like the sort of thing Donald Trump would want to bend U.S. laws to allow, and would be most eager to use his new near-magical powers to sabotage prosecution of—because Donald Trump still stands accused of doing very close to the exact same thing. Trump violated campaign laws to hide affairs, a crime that his once-lawyer pled guilty to and implicated Trump in. Trump and family are accused of misusing donated inauguration funds, just as Trump is now known to have pocketed funds from his self-named supposed “charity.”
Chris Collins lied to the FBI after being caught, literally, engaging in insider trading on White House grounds. Both the financial crookery and the lying to conceal evidence are things that Trump, himself, is attempting to dodge consequences for.
Steve Stockman is a money launderer who, again, attempted to steal charity funds. Donald Trump is an accused money launderer whose connections to organized crime have piqued investigator interest for decades, and who in multiple new media investigations appears to have engaged in both tax dodges and bank fraud.
The message of all three pardons is clear, because Trump’s brain simply cannot produce nuance. Trump continues to pardon loyalists facing punishment for crimes he himself has freely engaged in. Trump wishes to nullify punishment for those crimes, and to discredit their prosecution in the same manner as he still seeks to discredit any probe into Russian assistance. He aims to inoculate himself from prosecution for financial crimes by pre-declaring that all such prosecutions are political tricks. He is a dull but crooked man, and does only dull and crooked things.
And then there are the Blackwater killers. Trump’s pardons of four private mercenaries in the employ of private security firm Blackwater when they opened fire indiscriminately on civilians in a Baghdad square remains a shocking national betrayal even after few other Trump actions still provoke shock. The four were found guilty after a massacre that served to discredit America’s armed forces in the country and stoke terrorism against Americans. Among the dead was a 9-year-old, Ali Kinani, shot in the head by the Blackwater guards; his father is reacting to Trump’s new endorsement of his son’s murder with appropriate emotion.
But the pardons serve two uncomplicated purposes, for Trump. Trump has repeatedly pressed the military and federal law enforcement alike—as well as his own rally crowds—to respond with more aggression and violence, suggesting multiple times that if the laws are against such things, he could use his presidential powers to undo the legal damage. Here he has again done so, explicitly. Trump campaigned on the notion of being more thuggish toward immigrants; Trump oversaw a new push to get federal executions done more speedily, and with fewer restrictions; Trump pardoned an Arizona sheriff infamous for cruel treatment of both immigrants and Americans his officers only suspected might be immigrants. Trump has declared himself a fan of violent crimes targeting the right people, and here, again, acts on it.
The other reason for these specific pardons, rather than any others: Blackwater was the mercenary company founded by Erik Prince, a Trump loyalist and the brother of Trump’s wealthy secretary of education Betsy DeVos. Immunizing Erik Prince’s forays into for-profit paramilitarism is of enormous benefit to Prince’s future endeavors and to his own political power; it builds the wealth and clout of the entire DeVos family.
That is how the convicted war criminals came to Donald’s attention in the first place, and why it may have been especially delicious for him to pardon these criminals rather than any others. These war criminals were in the employ of Trump’s wealthy allies. It is of great interest to Trump to send the message that the wealthy, in particular, have a right to orchestrate violence if it in their interest to do so.
Trump was always a shallow man, and was always a broken one. If we are to believe the accounts of his early rise, he has considered himself above both laws and morality on account of birthright for his entire sentient life. He conducted his financial affairs with contempt for the law and, with rare exception, was never called to account—only to have his political career cause closer examination of what turned out to be decades of tax dodging and fraud. He fancies himself a fascist superman, and in the throes of decompensation after a failed presidency and election his mind and his attentions have only lurched further toward proving it to the world, no matter how outlandish or destructive the results might be.
It will get worse. He will almost certainly pardon his family, a blanket pardon that does not recognize the charges of Russian cooperation but which nonetheless immunizes all involved from that investigation and from every financial crime, real or suspected, any ever engaged in. He will include himself. He may yet issue more pardons directed specifically at the violent far right, pardons aimed at encouraging actual terrorism on his behalf.
Republicans who themselves might benefit from his manipulations will pretend to be shocked or will dodge the implications. The media will report dutifully, but will attempt to find normalizing context so as to not state boldly that Trump is simply what he appears to be: The leader of a particularly dimwitted organized crime ring centered around collecting power, cash and adoration for himself and those willing to pledge loyalty. One who has been given the power to discredit, if not nullify, whatever laws he himself face the most legal danger from, or which stand in the way of his own self-enrichment.
The man is a crook, and nothing else. He does not have Nixon’s complexity; he does not believe, like a litany of past Republican officials caught in crimes, that bending laws is justified if it is in service to a larger, ideological goal. He is simply a crook, a self-centered husk attempting to fill itself with money and admiration while considering the rest of the world to be, at best, the stage created for him to do so. His crimes are for himself; his alliances exist fleetingly, and only for self-interest.
He is just a crook, and that is all.