On Thursday, President Trump issued his sixth pardon. Each of them bypassed the standard vetting process, and a number of the underlying convictions stemmed from prosecutions conducted by his perceived political enemies, such as James Comey and Preet Bharara.
Trump’s most recent pardon was granted to Dinesh D’Souza, a conservative commentator and bigot who pleaded guilty in May 2014 to a campaign finance felony. In comments made to reporters and on Twitter, Trump indicated that he has little to no familiarity with the details of D’Souza’s case, but nonetheless believes he was “treated very unfairly.”
Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2018
Trump’s pardons are widely interpreted as signals to former aides ensnared in investigations related to his campaign who are not known to be cooperating with investigators, such as Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen.
It wouldn’t be wise for Trump — currently under investigation for obstruction of justice — to admit as much publicly. But in an interview with The Washington Post, his longtime adviser, Roger Stone, said the quiet part very loudly.
“It has to be a signal to Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort and even Robert S. Mueller III: Indict people for crimes that don’t pertain to Russian collusion and this is what could happen,” Stone said. “The special counsel has awesome powers, as you know, but the president has even more awesome powers.”
Trump’s pardons also serve as a signal to Stone himself. As ThinkProgress detailed last week, emails recently obtained by The Wall Street Journal indicate that Stone withheld key documents from the House Intelligence Committee pertaining to his campaign communications about WikiLeaks.
CNN recently reported that Mueller is investigating Stone’s finances. Stone responded to the report with a defiant statement that vows, “I have no intention of being silenced or turning my back on President Trump.”
In the wake of D’Souza’s pardon, Stone has more reason than ever to think he’ll be rewarded by Trump if he doesn’t.