Again Monday morning, President Donald Trump made it clear that he's willing to use one of the few absolute powers belonging to him as president in ways that benefit him as he fights special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into his campaign and administration.
Trump has pardoned political lackeys who kept their mouths shut, including Dick Cheney's former Chief of Staff Scooter Libby; hard-right cult figures like former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio; and author Dinesh D'Souza. Thanks to an intervention from Sylvester Stallone, he also pardoned former heavyweight champion Jack Johnson.
Trump published a tweet Monday assuring the public that he has the "absolute right to PARDON myself," adding that he wouldn't do that because he hasn't done anything wrong.
As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong? In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2018
The president has issued the high-profile get-out-of-trouble-free cards because he can and, legal experts argue, because doing so sends a signal that he is willing to protect those who keep mum during Mueller's investigation.
As long as the president's passing these things out like candy to kids, we thought we'd make his job a little easier by compiling a list of five Texans who fit his pardon pattern in case he casts his eyes to the Lone Star State.
1. Danny Faulkner
Before heading a scheme that bilked more than $500 million out of several North Texas savings and loans by inflating the property values of thousands of condos along Interstate 30 in the late '70s and early '80s, Danny Faulkner was a house painter from Mississippi. Thanks to accomplices and Southern charm, Faulkner grifted his way to the American dream before being sentenced to two decades in federal prison in 1995.
Faulkner got out in 1998 because of a brain tumor that doctors believed would kill him in less than a year. He lived until 2012. Despite Faulkner's passing, there's no reason that the family of a hardworking real-estate man who got involved in one little scandal should have to face the continued indignity of his federal conviction.
2. Steve Stockman
Sure, former Houston-area U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman might have been convicted of 23 federal crimes related to the inappropriate use of charitable donations by his political campaigns, but it's clear that the investigation against him was a witch hunt meant to take down one of the most brilliant conservative minds ever to serve in Congress. Stockman should be gearing up to run for office again, not to face a lengthy stint in federal prison.
3. U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent
Samuel Kent, a President George H.W. Bush appointee, resigned his spot on the bench after the House of Representatives impeached him in 2009, all because he was forced to plead guilty to federal obstruction of justice charges after two female employees accused him of kissing, groping and touching them without their consent. Kent's been out of jail since 2011, but he never should've been there in the first place. After all, dozens of women have accused the president of similar actions.
4. John Dowdy
John Dowdy, one of four Texas congressmen to sign the "Southern Manifesto," a resolution criticizing the Supreme Court's order to desegregate U.S. public schools in Brown v. Board of Education, was chased out of office in 1973 after being indicted for taking a $25,000 bribe from a Washington, D.C., home remodeling company.
At the time, the conservative political advocacy group Liberty Lobby called the conviction a "vicious frame-up by the Justice Department in collaboration with a clique of housing racketeers." While it was eventually overturned, Dowdy served time on a federal perjury conviction. There's no reason an upstanding, principled politician like Dowdy should have his reputation besmirched, even in death. Rod Blogojevich, the disgraced former governor of Illinois and another Trump pardon candidate, was going to sell that Senate seat for a lot more than $25,000.
5. Don Hill
If we're pardoning corrupt politicians, it seems only fair that Don Hill, the onetime great hope of southern Dallas politics, be posthumously let off the hook for coercing bribes from developers who wanted votes from the councilman or D'Angelo Lee, his appointee to the city plan commission. Like Blagojevich and the president, Hill simply believed that everything, even in politics, came with a price.
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