In his column for the Daily Beast, conservative — and former Republican — Matt Lewis said it was time for the country to seriously consider amending the Constitution and take away the president’s ability to pardon citizens with impunity, adding Donald Trump has taken it to a new level of corruption.
Using Donald Trump’s commutation of “longtime friend and partner-in-crime” Roger Stone’s conviction as a jumping-off point, Lewis said it was a double-standard and hypocritical for Republicans to complain about previous presidential pardons and look the other way when the GOP president is blatantly rewarding the cover-up of a crime.
“As U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said during Stone’s sentencing, ‘he was not prosecuted… for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president,'” Lewis wrote before adding, “And he was pardoned for the same reason he was prosecuted.”
Writing, “If you play ball, Trump will reward your loyalty. This also signals to future allies that they have carte blanche authority to do things like lie to Congress and intimidate witnesses, because it has been pretty clearly demonstrated that there is no downside, so long as you’re protecting Trump,” Lewis proposed Congress start efforts to put a stop to it as soon as possible.
Adding, “increasingly clear that we have given executives way too much authority,” Lewis said reining them in would require a Constitutional amendment while at the same time suggesting Trump might try to pardon himself before he leaves office.
“Recent presidents have used their pardon powers to forgive donors and relatives (see Clinton) and even protect themselves (see Trump). One can only imagine what the future may hold, which is why a constitutional amendment to save us from the next Trump is needed,” he wrote before pointing out that, “at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, George Mason warned that the president ‘ought not to have the power of pardoning, because he may frequently pardon crimes which were advised by himself. It may happen, at some future day, that he will establish a monarchy, and destroy the republic.'”
“Not impressed with this argument, James Madison responded that Congress could simply impeach a president who did this,” Lewis continued before adding a sarcastic, “Yeah. Umm. Who’s being naive, now, James?”
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