‘A drive by on the rule of law’: Furious reaction to politics of Trump’s pardons

‘Donald Trump has killed the justice we achieved,’ said a former federal prosecutor 

Stuti Mishra
Wednesday 23 December 2020 13:11 GMT
Former federal prosecutor lashes out at Trump for pardoning war criminals

Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner lashed out at Donald Trump for his latest pardons, including for those convicted of killing unarmed citizens during the Iraq war.

On Tuesday Mr Trump announced another wave of pardons as his term nears an end, including four Blackwater contractors, one of whom was sentenced for a life term and the other for 30 years each after they opened fire on unarmed Iraqi citizens in Baghdad in 2007. Blackwater was renamed as Academi in 2011 after private investors acquired it.

The four men, in what is now known as Nisour Square massacre, used machine guns and grenades to attack the crowd in which 17 people died, including a mother who was trying to escape with her infant child.

Mr Kirschner, while speaking to MSNBC, slammed Mr Trump’s move saying: “It seems like there’s no line Donald Trump won’t cross.” 

"I will say, to this old prosecutor, it feels like what he just did was like an indiscriminate drive-by on the rule of law. I mean, he pardons people who are lying to the FBI. As part of the Russia probe. He pardons Republicans who were either stealing from their donors, committing campaign finance violations or engaged in insider training," Mr Kirschner said in his opening comments.

He further said: “What galls me the most and hits home for me personally is the Blackwater pardons… of these four Blackwater contractors who slaughtered innocent, unarmed, Iraqi men, women, and children."

“That was prosecuted -- that case, three times, by my former office, the US attorney's office for the District of Columbia. The lead prosecutor, a gentleman named Pat Martin is somebody I tried murder cases with. He poured his heart and soul into fighting for justice for those Iraqi victims,” he said.

“Ali, my office would bring the victims over from Iraq and their surviving family members of the 17 who were murdered over and over and over again for these three trials and I can tell you that those Iraqi citizens were equal parts heartened that the American criminal justice system cared about their victimisation and shocked at all of the time, energy, and effort, we poured into holding those Blackwater killers accountable for what they did,” Mr Kirschner said.

He stated that it was his proudest achievement in office while working as a US attorney and said it was important to "hold the men accountable for the way that they ravaged, murdered, victimised, those Iraqi citizens."

"Now Donald Trump has killed that justice we achieved in a very real sense," he said. "This is perhaps the single greatest affront to victims' rights I saw my 30 years as a prosecutor," Mr Kirschner said.

Mr Kirschner also voiced his anger on Twitter: “Trump pardoned the 4 Blackwater defendants who slaughtered 14 innocent, unarmed Iraqis (injured 17 others). I considered these trials one of the proudest accomplishments of the DC US Attorney’s Office, fighting for justice for those Iraqi victims. Today, Trump killed justice.”

This isn’t the first time Mr Trump has pardoned war criminals. In November last year he pardoned two service personnels convicted in killings of Afghan nationals.

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