If you're wondering why President Donald Trump is planning to pardon three alleged war criminals, you likely have Fox & Friends host Pete Hegseth to thank.
Two days ago, the New York Times reported that "the Trump administration had made expedited requests this week for paperwork needed to pardon the troops on or around Memorial Day." Those troops include Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher of the Navy SEALs, who has been accused of shooting unarmed civilians - including a young girl - and murdering a suspected Al Qaeda prisoner.
People Think They Know Why Donald Trump Is Choosing the People He Wants to Pardon, and Suddenly It All Makes Sense
In the United States, the pardon power for federal crimes is granted to the president by the Constitution. It states the president "shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment".
So far, President Donald Trump has pardoned five people. By comparison, President Barack Obama pardoned 212 people in his 8 years in office. President George W. Bush similarly pardoned 200. But most of the prior two presidents' pardons went to relative unknowns.
President Trump’s administration continues to polarize government officials all over the country. On April 18th, New York’s Attorney General asked Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislators for the power to ignore presidential pardons issued by Trump.
At that time, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman urged the governor and state legislative leaders to eliminate a standing loophole that exists in New York double jeopardy law. As it currently stands, the law shields individuals who have received presidential pardons from state prosecution. However, on May 7th, Schneidermann resigned as Attorney General, in response to four women accusing him of abuse.
President Trump's presidential power to pardon anyone for any federal crime has been his get-out-of-jail-free card ever since Robert Mueller's Russia probe investigation began. Just as he has pardoned former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, this executive power dangles in front of anyone close to him who might be tempted to cooperate with the investigation out of fear of prosecution.
Mueller is now circumventing the president's reach by taking his investigation to the state level, where the presidential pardon cannot follow.
This week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) joined several prominent human rights organizations––including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International––to launch a formal campaign asking President Obama to pardon National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Snowden has been living in an undisclosed location in Moscow and has sought asylum elsewhere since leaking classified information about the NSA’s mass surveillance programs in 2013. The campaign kicked off two days before the premiere of Oliver Stone’s film, Snowden. The human rights organizations created the website Pardon Snowden to promote the case for Snowden across the nation.