United States: Presidential Pardons Require Sense of Responsibility

Washington

In response to President Trump’s pardon of a conservative opinion writer convicted of violating campaign finance laws, and his considering a pardon of a businesswoman convicted of obstructing justice, and a sentence commutation of an impeached former governor convicted of bribery, Freedom House released the following statement:

“The presidential pardon is a unique institution in the American democratic system, meant to add an element of mercy and clemency to the rule of law,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House.  “While some presidents have made dubious choices, in most cases they have extended pardons to ordinary Americans who acknowledged their guilt, expressed remorse, and sought to atone for their crimes. Since taking office, President Trump has used or threatened to use the pardon to aid powerful individuals with political connections—some of whom have defended their actions and openly belittled the legal system—and to deal symbolic blows to political opponents. The constitution clearly grants the president broad discretion in issuing pardons. We would urge President Trump to take seriously the responsibility that comes with this power.”

The United States is rated Free in Freedom in the World 2018, Free in Freedom of the Press 2017, and Free in Freedom on the Net 2017.

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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