Former acting FBI chief says Trump pardons are undermining justice: 'It's remarkably disgusting'

Independent Staff
Thursday 24 December 2020 21:19 GMT
Former attorney slams Trump for pardoning war criminals

The former acting FBI chief Andrew McCabe has criticised the wave of presidential pardons issued by Donald Trump this week as "remarkably disgusting." 

Speaking to CNN, Mr McCabe said the president "is actively engaged in undermining the system of justice that he is supposed to protect and defend."

"These pardons are essentially the culmination of those acts of obstruction of justice," that was cited in the Mueller report, he added.

Mr McCabe was fired by Trump's first Attorney General Jeff Sessions one day before his pension kicked in. A Justice Department report said at the time that McCabe had overstepped his authority by allowing an aide to speak to the Wall Street Journal about an FBI probe into the Clinton Foundation.

Mr McCabe criticised Mr Trump for making it clear that in his circle it pays off to not cooperate with authorities.  

"He will pay you off with a pardon and give you a get out of jail free card," he said.

The Mueller report mentioned the possibility that Mr Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort chose not to work with authorities because he was expecting to be pardoned by Mr Trump. Longtime Trump-advisor Roger Stone also did not cooperate with the Special Counsel probe and received both a pardon and a commutation before that.

A pardon is a complete removal of a criminal conviction while a commutation is simply lessening someone's sentence.

"What was seen and referred to in the Mueller report has now been completed. Pardons were dangled. And now they've delivered in return for protection for the president. I don't even know how to describe it, it's so obviously corrupt," McCabe said.

Mr Trump has issued 70 pardons and 24 commutations, according to the Justice Department. Mr Trump has received 9 200 petitions for commutations compared to President Obama's 1 715 commutations and more than 33 000 petitions. President George W Bush commuted 11 sentences after over 8 500 requests.

Mr McCabe suggested that this was not the end of Mr Trump's pardon parade. "Where does he go next? Bannon is an obvious possible recipient...There has been reporting that Giuliani is interested in a pardon. He certainly probably could use one, as investigations in New York continue to heat up. And there's really no limit," he said.

Republican senator Ben Sasse issued a six-word statement on December 23 on the latest batch of Mr Trump's pardons: “This is rotten to the core.”

The Nebraskan Senator released the statement after "President Trump exercised his constitutional power to issue pardons to another tranche of felons like Manafort and Stone who flagrantly and repeatedly violated the law and harmed Americans," the press release said.

Despite these comments, the only Republican Senator to vote convict Trump during the impeachment trial was Mitt Romney of Utah, who according to ProPublica, boasted about not granting any pardons during his time as Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007.

Mr McCabe didn't hold back as he went after the President, saying that there is "No limit in terms of the disgrace that this President will subject himself to," to help his family and friends and to punish his enemies.

He said: "This guy is actively using the pardon to undermine justice. He's rewarding people who refused to cooperate, refused to provide information, who actively lied to prosecutors and to courts and judges. We have never seen a low like this. Buckle in. We may go lower," he said.

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