One of the things President Donald Trump's pardons revealed Tuesday is that Trump isn't above using the judicial system for political purposes, said Jason Johnson, politics editor at "The Root."
In a panel discussion with MSNBC's Brian Williams, Johnson said that it's all indicative of a man who wants to believe that he is an all-powerful king of the United States.
"The goal is Donald Trump wants to use all of the sort of pardons and this commuting of sentences in order to create a commercial," he explained. "It's theater. 'I'm the benevolent king. I can put my thumb up or down like a powerful emperor. Look at all these people I can rescue.' And when he does that, and people come out like Rod Blagojevich, and they say, 'Oh, hey, I owe him this or I'm going to give school (sic) to that person,' it allows him to sort of demonstrate that he's got an imperial presidency."
He explained that he wouldn't put it past Trump to pardon former Detroit Mayor "Kwame Kilpatrick right before the election in an attempt to engage African-American voters."
Kilpatrick was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in 2008 and was forced to resign.
"The president uses the legal system and his power as the president of the United States in order to create these performances, to weaken judicial norms, and to engage in campaign advertising," he closed. "It is disturbing. It's distressing. There doesn't appear to be any guardrails, and it's up to all of us to point out what it is he's doing so that the public isn't convinced that this is how the government is supposed to operate."
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