Grace out of self-interest

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The US president remains true to himself with the pardon of Michael Flynn: Good is what is useful to him. That could only have been the beginning; Trump needs loyal friends.
Michael Flynn already suspected that he could look forward to a relaxed and unencumbered Thanksgiving festival. Shortly before US President Donald Trump announced the pardon for his former security advisor on Twitter, Flynn tweeted himself. He wrote “Jeremiah 1:19” and put the US flag behind it. A reference to the prophet Jeremiah in the Bible: “That, even if they fight against you, they still cannot harm you; for I am with you, says the Lord, that I will save you.”

Now it wasn’t God who saved Flynn; it was Donald Trump. But like a god, only the president has the power of such a pardon. Tradition has it that this power is used by the presidents in the last few weeks before they have to leave the White House.

Barack Obama, for example, pardoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning and reduced the sentences of hundreds who had been disproportionately punished for minor drug offences. In the winter of 1992, George Bush pardoned several employees of former President Ronald Reagan who had been involved in a political scandal over the Contra war in Nicaragua. And Bill Clinton issued 176 pardons in all possible directions just hours before the end of his term. So far, so kind.

The motive for this quality can be disputed in individual cases. With Trump and Flynn, it is relatively straightforward. Washington had been speculating about the move for days. Because why should Trump no longer act selfishly in the last few weeks of his office. It was expected that he would protect close business partners, friends and companions from criminal prosecution. Unlike executive orders, i.e. presidential ordinances, which Trump can still issue until January 20th, Joe Biden cannot withdraw pardons. Michael Flynn now has nothing to fear. Trump is taking one of the central figures of the Russia affair out of the game.

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