President Trump: Please do yourself a favor and don't pardon Rod Blagojovich

When I first saw the headline suggesting that President Donald Trump may commit former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich’s prison sentence, I hoped it was fake news, but I knew better.

Since he’s been in office, the president has been using his power to pardon his political allies.  His ties to them appear to be his only motivation for granting clemency.  For instance, he recently pardoned Dinesh D’Souza (a fellow conservative) without offering a clear explanation why.

In defense of his decision to grant a reprieve for D’Souza, Trump claimed that he had been treated unfairly, yet he couldn’t specify how he had been treated unfairly.  D’Souza himself pleaded guilty to campaign fraud charges in 2014.

With regard to the Illinois case, it’s slightly troubling that Trump doesn’t even seem to know how much time Rod Blagojevich is serving.  The president remarked that he thought 18 years behind bars was too long for making a bad decision, yet the disgraced Illinois politician is only serving a 14-year-sentence.  His crime:  attempting to sell the Senate seat Barack Obama relinquished when he became President.  If you’re going to grant clemency to some one, shouldn’t you know every last detail or their case?

With Trump’s penchant for impulsivity and his sometimes questionable knowledge of the facts, his pardoning patterns seem to have more to do with his whims than good sense.  How much credibility do these pardons have when there’s no consistent rationale behind them?

Trump is essentially sending the message that corruption is OK if you have friends in high places.  If you have the right connections, you’re above the law.  Once he starts giving people a free pass to make unethical choices, he’s breeding a culture of unconscionable behavior, which seems to flourish well enough without his encouragement.  Letting this kind of activity go unchecked will make it difficult to rein it in not if, but when, it gets out of hand.

As the leader of the free world, Trump must stop rewarding bad or highly-questionable behavior.  As I’ve probably mentioned before, it’s difficult to walk in authority once a precedent has been set for lax enforcement of basic principles of integrity.

 

 

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