The Atlantic

Trump Is Weaponizing Pardons

The president has taken a prerogative intended to temper justice with mercy, and turned it into an instrument of the culture war.
Source: Brendan McDermid / Reuters

Beyond President Trump’s prolific dishonesty and extensive use of social media, it’s difficult to forecast what his administration’s enduring legacies may be for the presidency. But it’s becoming ever more likely that his innovative use of the pardon power will be one.

On Thursday, President Trump announced (on Twitter, of course) that he will pardon Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative writer convicted in 2014 of campaign-finance fraud. D’Souza illegally pushed donations to a Senate candidate, asking friends to donate and then reimbursing them, contravening limits on giving.

It’s Trump’s fifth pardon of his short presidency, and the third to go to a conservative , after former Maricopa County SheriffJoe Arpaio and Dick Cheney aide Scooter Libby. Other presidents have used pardons to send political messages, as when Jimmy Carter pardoned Vietnam War draft dodgers until the end of their terms to grant high-profile pardons.

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