Critics of President Trump saw Thursday's full pardon of admitted campaign-finance-law violator and conservative provocateur Dinesh D'Souza as yet another signal that Trump will use his pardon power to protect and reward his allies.
"While it is nothing new for a president to use clemency to reward friends and family, there is something unique and darker taking shape," law professor and former federal prosecutor Mark Osler argues at CNN. "Trump seems to be using the pardon power not only for the sodden purpose of helping buddies, but also to hurt those who have opposed him." On Friday morning's New Day, Joe Lockhart, Bill Clinton's former press secretary, said Trump is clearly promising "get of our jail free" cards "in order to survive the special counsel probe."
But Roger Stone, an ally and longtime confidante of Trump's, said basically the same thing to The Washington Post. "It has to be a signal to Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort and even Robert S. Mueller III: Indict people for crimes that don't pertain to Russian collusion and this is what could happen," Stone said. "The special counsel has awesome powers, as you know, but the president has even more awesome powers."
"The constitutional pardon power is a rare and remarkable thing: It gives the president nearly unchecked power to relieve the burdens of a criminal conviction," Osler writes. "It was meant to be a tool of mercy; Alexander Hamilton described it as such in Federalist 74." But Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe explained on New Day that like all presidential powers, it isn't absolute: "Every power of the president is limited by the impeachment clause."