Former US Attorney Preet Bharara said President Donald Trump’s political allies are clearly receiving a message from his presidential pardons.
“I don’t know if he is trying to send a message, but they are clearly getting a message,” Bharara, who is a CNN legal analyst, said Sunday in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Bharara added, “He’s making it very clear he is prepared to pardon anyone for any reason without any review. It was suggested that he reviewed the case; I don’t think Donald Trump did anything of the sort.”
The former New York federal prosecutor said that there’s a specific process presidents should follow for presidential pardons “so people understand that that power is being exercised fairly and on the merits and not because of whim or spite or partisan advantage.”
Trump recently granted a full pardon to conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to violating federal campaign finance laws, and floated the idea of pardoning Martha Stewart and commuting former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s sentence, both of whom appeared on “The Apprentice” reality TV series.
“He decides in the moment to take a political action, and that is what he did in this case,” Bharara told CNN on Sunday. “I think he is going to keep doing it.”
A Justice Department spokesman told CNN last week that Trump did not run D’Souza’s pardon through the department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney, which was also the case for Trump’s controversial pardons of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in an investigation into leaking the identity of a CIA officer, and former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt in a case related to his hardline tactics with undocumented immigrants.