This evening Donald Trump pardoned even more bad people. The list included his pals Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, who both criminally conspired with Russia to alter the outcome of the 2016 election, in what amounted to treason. The list also included Jared Kushner’s ex-con father Charles Kushner.
This is all corrupt and pathetic, but we all knew it was coming. Moreover, none of it means that Trump is now somehow magically winning. In fact it means the opposite. It means Trump is at the end now and he knows it. If he thought there were even the slightest chance he might somehow manage to steal a second term, he’d wait until that second term was in hand before issuing these kinds of pardons, which will only serve to turn even more Americans against him.
Meanwhile, these pardons don’t necessarily help these guys much. Roger Stone has already been reduced to a sad, broken shell of himself, selling autographed rocks on his website for $8 to try to sustain himself. Paul Manafort did time in prison, then house arrest, and his health appears to be failing as a result. Moreover, this kind of overly broad preemptive pardon won’t necessarily prevent Stone from being hit with the additional criminal charges that were being worked on when Mueller was forced give up.
Donald Trump will continue to pardon more people in his final days, including his advisers, his family members, and himself. Some of these pardons will hold up, some won’t. Some of these people will also face unpardonable state charges, some won’t. Pardons aren’t magic wands. They’re just the only move that a defeated corrupt president has left on his way out the door.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report