The US Constitution gives the President the power to forgive a federal crime. The Supreme Court has ruled that the President’s authority to grant pardons is unlimited. That authority also extends to commuting the sentence for a federal crime.
In the past week, Donald Trump granted full pardons to seven people and commutations to four others, all of whom committed their federal crimes some years ago. Like Presidents before him, both Republican and Democrat, Trump has used this power to benefit supporters, friends and friends of friends/supporters but for historical crimes.
Now the US media and Donald Trump are posturing about a pardon or commuting for just convicted Roger Stone, something that Trump has the power to do.
The US Constitution defines the three separate and independent branches of government – legislative (Congress), executive (President) and judicial (Supreme Court and Federal Courts). Each branch may influence, respond to and change some of the actions of the other branches through a constitutionally defined system of checks and balances.
It would be a shame, and a kick in the guts for the Constitution and the Judiciary, if Trump crossed the Constitution’s separation of powers with regard to Roger Stone so soon after the court’s sentencing was handed down because it smacks of interference in an independent judiciary.
The realist in me expects Trump to pardon Roger Stone after the November presidential election – whether he wins or loses. It is election year, after all. But the cynic in me expects an announcement much, much sooner.