WASHINGTON, D.C. — In 2018, former reality-TV star Donald Trump issuing a full presidential pardon to convicted felon and right-wing commentator Dinesh D’Souza. This morning, on Twitter, President Trump announced he was issuing another pardon to John Wilkes Booth, the man who killed Abraham Lincoln.
“Everyone knows I love to rile up my base, and nothing will rile up my base like pardoning the man who freed this country from the Tyrant Lincoln,” Trump said. “I never understood why the South signed such a terrible deal at Appomattox, and I can promise you if I had been negotiating instead of Lee, the Rebs would have come out of that house winners of the War of Northern Aggression instead of losers of the Civil War.”
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During his first term, Mr. Trump has pardoned three people in eyebrow raising fashion.
First, he pardoned convicted former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose crimes were related to his repeated racial profiling of Hispanic people. Second, Trump pardoned former Bush administration official Scooter Libby. Mr. D’Souza was the third such pardon that has rankled some on the Hill. It’s not clear if the administration went through the normal channels of the office of the White House attorney to get the legal clearance for the pardons.
While it should be noted that the presidential pardon only commutes a sentence or punishment, but does not remove guilt, D’Souza was seen on Twitter taking a victory lap after his pardon was announced. D’Souza was convicted in 2014 an a handful of counts related to illegal campaign contributions. D’Souza admitted as part of his plea deal that he arranged for “straw donations” — money given to candidates by D’Souza himself but under someone else’s name — and was given a five year sentence, which was ultimately shortened.
Obama & his stooges tried to extinguish my American dream & destroy my faith in America. Thank you @realDonaldTrump for fully restoring both
— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) May 31, 2018
Trump’s decision to pardon Booth, who died in 1865, just twelve days after he murdered Lincoln at Ford’s Theater in the nation’s capital, is perhaps the most shocking to date. However, Trump himself said this morning that “no one should be surprised by any of this.”
“I’m a corrupt, self-serving white collar criminal with a history of business deals so bad I was forced to work exclusively with Russian oligarchs who have kompromat on me,” Trump said. “And I hit the scene in politics by accusing our first black president of not being born here, simply because he’s black, for nearly a decade. My campaign clearly laundered money, and I’m very obviously guilty of some kind of campaign finance violation or another, so if you’re surprised by my purely political, self-serving pardons, you’re prolly stupid, fam.”
Reached for comment, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called this move a “horrendous abuse of the pardon powers” but stopped short of saying he’d do anything about it.
“Oh this is a horrendous abuse of the pardon powers and one being done purely for political reasons to boot,” McConnell said. “I wish I could more than whine about it, but you know, I’ve got to, um, you know, HEY WHAT’S THAT?!”
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook, Spotify, and Instagram, but not Twitter because they have a definition of hate speech that includes “calling Ann Coulter the C-word.”