Most of what I have written over the past year regarding the recent US Presidential election has come to fruition. That having been said, I am not a political oracle, but simply a fascinated observer of the process. Reading between the lines of political behavior and actions is often more interesting and valid than taking it all at face value.
For some time, I have been making a prediction privately which I have been loath to put into print as it is just a bit provocative. Who would want that!?
As we watch President Obama implementing more Presidential commutations than any previous President, there are a few issues to consider. At the end of the day, one needs to look at those pardons and see if there is a pattern therein. As of December 19, 2016, “USA Today,” reported that Obama has issued 148 complete pardons during his presidency and has shortened the sentences of 1,176 people in prison including 395 serving life sentences. One must wonder how it is that the President had the time to study these cases in such detail that he could make this volume of determinations while still in charge of running the nation and working on the campaign trail to try to get Hillary Clinton elected to replace him. It may simply be his Christmas gift to humanity, to allow certain individuals to be “forgiven” by their generous leader. He may see it as being a “role model” to his children. Having a clear understanding that most of his “legacy” will be reversed in the four years to come, he appears to want to make the most of this opportunity to “do good.” Until he is finished with this process one will not be able to know if there are other agendas or patterns in his decisions as to whom he chose to assist and why.
There are two potential Presidential pardons which may define Mr.Obama at the end of the Day, should they occur. One is the prosecution of Private -First -Class Bowe Bergdahl who Obama welcomed with open arms as a war hero, after having exchanged his life for that of five Taliban members being held in Guantanamo Bay.Testimony from his fellow soldiers exposed that Bergdahl had actually walked off his military post in Afghanastan and that he was deserter who was protected rather than abused, by a Taliban aligned militia for five years. They clearly waited until the time was right to negotiate the exchange of Berghdal for five of their fighters. His court martial is scheduled for February of 2017 and he has applied to President Obama for a pardon before the trial is to begin. The military is up in arms at the suggestion that such actions should be forgiven and minimized. They see it as demoralizing for the American troops who served valiantly and for the families of those who died in the process.
Still the most interesting pardon of all is waiting for the final days of the Obama Presidency. Of course that is the potential pardon of Hillary Clinton. Apparently the President does have the power to block punishment for her even though none has yet been meted out. The ongoing FBI investigations into her activities as Secretary of State could be brought to a dramatic halt if such a pardon was to be proclaimed. It is hard to envision Obama walking away from that option. It serves him in many directions. Most important of all is that further investigations of Hillary could lead directly back to Mr. Obama himself. Although she has been tough in blocking any discourse which might lead to the President, she had good reasons to do so. He promised to promote her campaign for President and she could not and did not risk damaging that agreement between them. Will her resolve continue once he is out of office? Might she divulge matters she has thus far blocked with multiple statements of “I don’t remember”? Might she reveal that her private email servers were put into place with the full knowledge of the White House? Could they have been at the request of those in power? Could the intent have been to have communications which would not be part of the government records for perpetuity? That would open up even further inquiries.
Lawyers are discussing whether a pardon for Hillary would be a pardon for the Clinton Foundation itself. That seems highly unlikely. Surely a non-profit organization has responsibilities under a different umbrella of regulations than the actions of a top-level political appointee. Removing Mrs. Clinton’s personal legal liability for actions taken especially during her term of office as Secretary of State could be explained-away – as “protecting the National interest.” A better explanation would actually be “Protecting President Obama’s Interests.” They are definitely not one in the same.
In spite of both Hillary and Bill making repeated proclamations of how she has been proven innocent of all misdeeds, this is clearly not the case. Investigations are proceeding and at the moment it appears that more difficult days are on the horizon for her. President-elect Trump has stated that he is no longer interested in pursuing the issues against Mrs. Clinton, but the Congress and FBI are likely to feel differently.
It is actually hard to imagine President Obama not making a pre-emptive pardon for Mrs. Clinton his final executive order. He seriously needs to block any further investigations of Hillary’s email activity and what actually happened in Benghazi under his Presidency, as all roads could lead back to him. Having thrust Mrs. Clinton into the position of Secretary of State with no real power, she had no option but to clearly advise the President and implement his decisions on all critical matters. Thus far Hillary has taken the hits, and has claimed that the buck stopped with her. In doing so, she blocked the investigations from moving up the chain of command. That might not continue to happen once the mantle of power has been handed over to the new President and she no longer has anything to gain by protecting her previous boss. The only guarantee that previously guarded secrets remain as such, would be to find a way to end the investigations, full stop. A Presidential pardon might provide the invisible shield desired.
If in fact, Mr. Obama does not find a way to pardon Hillary, he opens himself up to multiple inquiries which were impossible when he was actually in office. It is hard to imagine that he would allow that possibility to remain open.
The Presidential Pardon of the Thanksgiving turkey brought a smile to my face and made me wonder if another “turkey” would be given a future lease on her life! Be patient and stay tuned. There is only one month to wait before the Executive privilege runs out of time. If that which I have written is “much ado about nothing” It will be a positive reflection on Mr. Obama. Leaving Mrs. Clinton vulnerable would imply that he has nothing to hide. Fascinating last days!