Bill Clinton pardoned one third of his total pardons on January 20, 2001, his last day in office. Federal prosecutor Mary Jo White was appointed to investigate the Marc Rich pardon. She was later replaced by James Comey, who found no illegality (of course). Marc Rich was a fugitive who fled the United States during his prosecution. He owed $48 million in taxes and was charged with 51 counts of tax fraud.
Bill Clinton also commuted the sentences of sixteen members of the FALN paramilitary organization that set off 120 bombs in the United States. The sixteen terrorists were charged and convicted of conspiracy and sedition The commutation was opposed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the Fraternal Order of Police. Congress condemned this Clinton pardon by a vote of 95-2 in the Senate and 311-41 in the House.
Barack Obama granted over 1,927 pardons, commutation of sentence, remission of fine or restitution, and reprieve, more than Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton combined. With less than one week left in his term, Obama granted clemency to Chelsea Manning, the army intelligence analyst who was convicted of disclosing classified information to Wikileaks.
While Clinton and Obama pardoned or commuted sentences for violent , drug and massive tax evasion charges and convictions, President Trump pardoned a law enforcement professional who honorably served his country for over fifty years, a law enforcement professional who became the target of a criminalized Justice Department.
Not once did Senators John McCain or Jeff Flake raise a complaint regarding the Clinton and Obama pardons and commutations, at least I never heard a peep out of them. But now, they both complain of the Trump pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The stench of their hypocrisy cannot be contained.
The two Senators should be reminded that the U.S. Supreme Court in Ex parte Garland (1867) stated that the president’s pardon power “extends to every offense known to the law, and may be exercised at any time after its commission, either before legal proceedings are taken, or during their pendency, or after conviction and judgement”[emphasis mine].
McCain’s claim that no one is above the law is contradicted by his service in the United States Senate and his acquiescence to accepting Obama’s exemption from Obamacare. The Senate routinely exempts itself from laws that everyone else must obey. McCain and Flake are closet progressives, not conservatives and certainly not Republicans.