Earlier this week the Democrats went ballistic over the president commuting the sentence of a convicted criminal.
Now imagine this: The president of the United States grants clemency to 16 members of a Puerto Rican terrorist group who had perpetrated 130 bombings, including one that killed four people at a New York City tavern.
That clemency was granted by President Bill Clinton in 1999, to benefit the terrorists incarcerated since the late 1970s for these acts. The obvious reason he did so was that his wife Hillary needed Puerto Rican votes to get herself elected senator from New York.
An indignant Congress voted 311 to 41 for a resolution criticizing the President’s granting of clemency to terrorists. Opposed to censuring Clinton for his amnesty for terrorists was Representative Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of San Francisco. She got to the floor too late to have her vote counted, but announced that she would have voted no. She is now Speaker of the House.
Voting “Present” was that paragon of political courage, Representative Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Do you remember Senator Patrick Leahy denouncing President Clinton for the shameful act of giving clemency to terrorists? I’m sure you don’t.
President Bush commuted the perjury sentence of Scooter Libby, who couldn’t remember exactly from whom he first heard a fact that, it turned out, was completely inconsequential in an episode where no crime was ever committed.
The aforementioned Hillary Clinton, now senator from New York, denounced Bush for abandoning the rule of law. Of course, the law says that the power of the president to pardon or otherwise grant clemency is unlimited. (It would have to be, for her hushand to get away with the disgraceful pardons he handed out his last week in office.) Undoubtedly Sen. Patrick Leahy and now-Sen. Bernie Sanders will weigh in to express their shock.
If Bush had had the right stuff, he would have also pardoned special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald for malfeasance in office, just to make the point.
– John McClaughry is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.