Editorial of The New York Sun | December 24, 2020
“Nauseating” is the word the Washington Post is using this morning to describe the pardons and commutations that President Trump issued as Christmas approached. The Times exclaims that, by pardoning “some of the most deplorable people in the country,” Mr. Trump has “made a mockery of mercy.” It even lists among the undeserving of Mr. Trump’s pardons the Thanksgiving turkey.
Yet the Times takes the occasion to call for yet more pardons. Good for the Gray Lady, we say. She references 74 Federalist, the number of the Federalist papers in which Hamilton sketches why the Founders granted the pardon power to the President alone. Without “an easy access to exceptions in favor of unfortunate guilt, justice would wear a countenance too sanguinary and cruel.”
This is why Hamilton, in 74 Federalist, avers that the “benign prerogative of pardoning” is to be “as little as possible fettered or embarrassed.” It strikes us that the pardon of Paul Manafort, which so agitates the Times and the Post, is an example of what the Founders anticipated. It’s hard to recall a case in which the motives of the prosecution were so bluntly questioned as in Mr. Manafort’s case.
That questioning was done by the judge himself, the Honorable (and
venerable) T.S. Ellis III. He went so far as to suggest from the bench
and in open court that the government’s reason for prosecuting Mr.
Manafort was to force him to “sing” against President Trump. It was
shocking to us that, after such a suggestion, the judge shrank from
dismissing the case. It is sad that it was left to President Trump to
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