Good Move Mr. President

President Trump on Thursday pardoned Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative writer, filmmaker and commentator who was serving five years probation for illegally using straw donors to support a Republican Senate candidate in 2012.

The president also invited headlines while musing about pardoning TV personality Martha Stewart and commuting the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D).

The surprise pardon for D’Souza came one day after the president met with reality television star Kim Kardashian, who visited the White House to discuss prison reform and to advocate for pardoning Alice Marie Johnson, a 65-year-old woman who has served 20 years of a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense.

The Memo: Trump flexes power of the pardon.

Let’s look at the dynamics around the men Trump has pardoned…

  • Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, now a GOP candidate for the Senate in Arizona, convicted of criminal contempt for disobeying a federal judge’s order on detaining individuals suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.
  • I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, once a top aide to former Vice President Dick Cheney in the George W. Bush White House, convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the investigation of the leak of CIA officer Valerie Plame’s identity.
  • Navy sailor Kristian Saucier, convicted and imprisoned for mishandling classified information and photos of a submarine.
  • Late African-American boxer Jack Johnson, convicted of transporting a white woman across state lines “for immoral purposes;” charges widely viewed as racially motivated.

What do they have in common?

  • Libby, Arpaio and D’Souza are Republicans. The president said he believed they were treated “very unfairly” by the Justice Department. Arpaio and D’Souza were charged and convicted under former President Obama’s Justice Department.
  • Several share prosecutors who have since become political enemies of the president. Former FBI Director James Comey prosecuted Stewart. Comey’s attorney Pat Fitzgerald prosecuted Blagojevich and Libby. Former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara, whom Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired after he refused to resign, prosecuted D’Souza.
  • Blagojevich appeared on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” in 2010. Stewart hosted a spin-off of “The Apprentice” in 2005.
  • Some conservatives have compared Saucier’s case to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of federal materials and information on her private email server. The FBI did not bring charges against Clinton.

The takeaway: Several of Trump’s allies – Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, among them – are facing serious federal charges or ongoing investigations. Democrats are already accusing Trump of sending signals that if those men remain loyal to him, presidential mercy could be their reward.

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