Trump, King of the Swamp
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Trump, King of the Swamp

Pardons for Bad Guys; Threatening to Deny COVID-19 Relief for Everyone Else

Terry H. Schwadron

Terry H. Schwadron

Stop talking about draining swamps in Washington. You’re just adding to them instead.

Pardoning convicted and confessed campaign associates, disgraced, discarded members of your own political party, and those found guilty of the murder of Iraqi civilians, disqualifies you from talking swamp.

You’re a swamp maker – these pardons are the very epitome of that swamp that has feathered its own nest in office, including you, who sees this act of clemency only as a chance to promote your own case.

And worse, on the same day, you are putting in danger this frail legislative deal – negotiated with your own people – that is meant to start helping millions.

Donald Trump, you apparently cannot stop yourself from insisting that you know better that Wrong is Right than judges, voters, advisers, allies or even his own loyalists – any more than you can respect scientists, educators or anyone citing the Constitution.

Instead, disgracefully again last night, you showed us your unrestrained imperial self once again —through pardons that may have been expected from you but are a sneer at Americans, and refusing to sign this bill in a way that puts all of it, from food aid to actually running the government at all, at serious risk.

It seems that under the pressure of having to leave the White House stage, you are proving a danger to the health and morality of the United States. You are fully acting like a madman, flailing against law, limits or the prospect of causing harm to others.

More To Come, Clearly

The only trouble with getting angry about you issuing 20 pardons for campaign friends caught up in the Mueller Report – and pleading guilty – and the three dishonored Republican former congressmen who spent our money on themselves — is that we know there are more pardons to come.

But it does make me angry that you have no respect for your job, your role or our country outside of trying to use these pardons to insist that your excesses and those of your friends never happened.

I’ll grant you this: You won’t give up in the face of fact, political reality or private advice of even those close to you. You just  can’t give up the spotlight.

These pardons and commutations of sentence for George Papadopoulos and the lawyer Alex van der Zwaan from the Russia investigation – who both pleaded guilty to lying to investigators – doesn’t change their involvement in an overabundance of contacts between your 2016 campaign and Russian operatives, any more than the previous pardons for Michael T. Flynn and Roger Stone. They just underscore that you hold yourself and your friends above the law.

Your pardons of former Republican congressmen Duncan D. Hunter of California, Chris Collins of New York and Steve Stockman of Texas just show you have no respect for the exact principles of swamp that you have preached. Indeed, you yourself should be looked at for profiting in office.

And your pardons of four former U.S. service members who were convicted on charges related to the killing of Iraqi civilians, including boys aged 8 and 11, while working as contractors for Blackwater in 2007, are an affront to the honor codes of the military as well as a snub of humanitarianism.

Whatever you think you’re trying to achieve in these pardons reflects the exact opposite.

The Veto Threat

At almost the same time, your videoed remarks vowing not to sign this mammoth bill that finally starts to address the ill effects of coronavirus that you have allowed to lie fallow for months is simply governmental malpractice.

The list of what you could have done since the Democratic House passed its version of this bill last June is huge. Instead, you have frittered time and focus on yourself and your flailing about losing the election.

None of us was happy to see congressional leaders pass the relief bill by combining it with the broader spending plan to fund government operations and the military. Of course, it dealt with things other than relief alone. This is not a surprise – except apparently to you.

If you had wanted a higher direct payment to Americans in relief, you would have pushed the total cost of the disputed legislation higher to match the mathematics.

Instead, you insisted on petulance from the White House and now present your legislative grievances as something everyone should rethink on the fly.

You don’t belong in your job. Thankfully, voters agreed.

At the end of the day, a whole lot of Washington is going to feel itself prideful about turning itself inside-out to achieve a modicum of bipartisanship over something that, while differences exist, should have been a no-brainer for months already.

Biden is going to tap into every bit of that mock pride, quickly.

December 23, 2020