President Trump commuted the sentence of his longtime confidant Roger Stone on Friday, using the extensive powers of the presidency to protect a felon and political ally while also lashing out against a years-long probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
For at least 10 years, Mr. Kerik had been seen as a fallen figure from a distant tough-guy era in New York, banished to the margins of power. But with the rise of Mr. Trump, Mr. Kerik’s fortunes changed. His brand — brashly conservative, critical of federal prosecutors and close with right-wing media — precisely fit the jaw-jutting mold favored in the White House.
President Trump pardoned two Oregon ranchers Tuesday, firing a new salvo in a complicated culture war previously marked by air-mailed sex toys, nuanced disputes over the management of public lands, and a police shootout that killed a would-be leader of a modern crackpot revolution. But the details of Trump’s move indicate he is less interested in reversing an unjust sentence than he is in giving a thinly-veiled “attaboy” to a small group of heavily armed chaos agents who seek to undermine the federal government’s proper role in managing public lands all across the western U.S.
A lawyer for President Trump broached the idea of Mr. Trump pardoning two of his former top advisers, Michael T. Flynn and Paul Manafort, with their lawyers last year, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions.
After President Trump’s pardon of ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio, who had been convicted of criminal contempt for violating a court order designed to stop the violation of the constitutional rights of suspected illegal immigrants, conventional wisdom — and certainly the Trump administration — would have us believe that Trump’s pardon powers are unlimited. However, never before has someone stretched the pardon power so beyond its original intent. Trump has now drawn scrutiny not simply from critics of his racist rhetoric but from the court itself.