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The Journal of SteffanieRivers: That’s A Chess Move

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*When President Donald Trump agreed to enact prison reform legislation, pardoning dead people and giving rich politicians get-of-jail-free cards isn’t what we had envisioned. Maybe if Meek Mill would have attended the president’s forum on prison reform last month at the White House as he promised instead of letting Jay-Z talk him out of going Trump would have a better idea of who some of the people are who legitimately can benefit from a pardon because they were wrongly accused and still are alive. But I digress!

Typically pardons and commutations are handed out to people who might have run afoul of the law as it’s written, but their guilt is morally or ethically debatable. But Dinesh D’Souza pleaded guilty to illegal campaign contributions. Trump pardoned him anyway. The next two people in line for pardons should’ve pleaded guilty judging from all the evidence against them: Among the 17 crimes that took former Illinois governor Rick Blagojevich from the governor’s mansion to federal prison included bribery. He was caught on audio recordings soliciting payments in exchange for an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama when he was elected president in 2008. Martha Stewart was convicted of conspiring to and committing insider trading. When she lied to investigators about it prosecutors added obstruction of justice to the charges and convicted her in 2004. She and Blagojevich appeared as contestants on Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice. Stewart served her time, lived through the disgrace and rebuilt her image. She’s worth more than $300 million. Clearly she doesn’t need a pardon.

To most Americans these pardons aren’t important. To others who understand how Trump operates it’s akin to watching a chess game. These pardons aren’t to benefit random people for no particular reason. These people are like pawns on a chess board that get moved around at the president’s whim. It’s all about him! When Stewart was indicted it was then U.S. Attorney James Comey who approved the federal case against her. Yes, the same Comey who Trump fired from his position as FBI director. Comey said Trump fired him because he wouldn’t pledge loyalty to Trump and agree to suppress or end the investigation into Russia-gate. To pardon Stewart would be a chess move.

Trump’s first chess move, to appoint Jeff Sessions (his knight) as U.S. Attorney General so Sessions could end the Russia collusion investigation, fell flat when Sessions recused himself citing a conflict of interest. Trump later asked Sessions to ‘un-recuse’ himself. He wouldn’t. So Trump bashes him every chance he gets. Not sure how Sessions could claim a conflict of interest one day then reverse himself the next day unless he had a time machine that allowed him to go back in time and undo the conflict of interest. Sorta like claiming you gave birth one day then denying you had a baby the next day. That’s not how it works!

Anyway, with Sessions unable to block the investigation and Comey (his other knight) unwilling to pledge loyalty, Trump fired Comey. But that strategy backfired! When Robert Mueller was appointed FBI director and was chosen to lead the Russia-gate investigation he became the pebble in Trump’s shoe that he can’t get rid of.

Trump admitted his tweets and fake news claims are to confuse people so they second-guess what’s true and what’s not. As for the pardons, if he pardons people who have nothing to do with the Russia collusion investigation, when he gets around to pardoning people connected to Russia-gate his obstruction of justice defense will be set in motion. His defense: He’s pardoned lots of people for various reasons. Some of them just happen to be connected to Russia-gate. So his intention isn’t to obstruct justice, especially since – according to Trump – there was no collusion. This chess game has more moves than the Warriors in game 2. 

SteffanieRivers is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex. For comments, questions and speaking inquiries email her at [email protected]

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