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NYT Reporter: 88 Percent of Trump’s Pardons Were for His ‘Allies’ or ‘His Benefit’



Calling it a “bizarre night,” MSNBC host Rachel Maddow addressed the veto threat from President Donald Trump along with his slate of pardons for people involved in the Mueller investigation and murderers of unarmed civilians in Iraq.

Maddow noted that along with the names of the people he was pardoning he also added names of those who endorsed the pardon as if to bring them in as accomplices in the pardons.

New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt explained that there’s a process through the Justice Department for pardons to ensure that those who are being pardoned match a kind of acknowledgment of grace and mercy.

“They’ve had the system to ensure that there’s a uniform process to it,” he told Maddow. “We know that Trump has ignored that process in his past pardons, that he has gone off and done things on his own. He’s allowed Kim Kardashian into the Oval Office to lobby him for pardons. At first glance, when looking at these pardons tonight, it’s clear that many of them don’t even meet the basic criteria to receive a typical Justice Department recommendation for a pardon.”

He continued: “So, that means that they operated essentially outside the system, that anyone could have gone to the White House and lobbied the president, Jared Kushner or anyone else in the West Wing for these directly. And it’s that type of lobbying that people say is concerning because it allows the process to not be about grace and mercy. It allows it to be about connections and lobbying.”

Schmidt also doubted that any of these pardons were approved by Attorney General Bill Barr as he was walking out of the Justice Department.

“It doesn’t appear like the Justice Department was involved in many of these,” he explained. “This has been a very White House-driven process. This has been the type of thing that the president because he has gotten rid of the typical way that pardons are looked at, it has allowed people to come in and to treat this as if they were lobbying for a company or lobbying for a bill.”

Schmidt explained that Trump really enjoys the power that he gets from people coming up to him at events begging for pardons.

“It’s something that the president can create instantaneous loyalty when he does,” said Schmidt. “And because of that, if you look at the past numbers that he has granted, the pardons he has granted, of the 45 he granted up until today, 40 of the 45 — 88 percent — were either tied to one of his allies, someone who had special access to him, or was tied to something that politically benefited him personally.”

That last piece of information was something that Maddow predicted would someday be heard in a Congressional hearing on the pardons.

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Trump Swipes at Mark Zuckerberg Asking for White House Goodies: ‘He Didn’t Do Too Well’



Former President Donald J. Trump mocked Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and “big tech” during an interview on Tuesday when he appeared on Fox News with Sean Hannity.

Trump meandered throughout the interview and went off on a tangent claiming he did “big things” when discussing the 2020 election. Trump said Zuckerberg visited the White House “trying to get goodies,” but that “he didn’t do too well.”

Trump added, “So I thought that he was concerned we were doing things. We were doing things. Had we had a second term, we would have had that much, really, pretty much under control. We had some incredible things planned for big tech.”

Watch the video below.

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Lincoln Project Trolls Trump with New TV Ad Where He’s Currently Vacationing



The conservative anti-Trump PAC Lincoln Project is launching an ad campaign in South Florida with the hopes that President Trump, who is currently vacationing in the region, will see them.

According to the Sun Sentinel, the group has bought air time in the West Palm Beach market from Wednesday through Jan. 5. Trump is scheduled to be in the area until Jan. 3.

“A major pillar of The Lincoln Project’s 2020 strategy was aiming to torment an audience of one — Trump — through advertising on cable shows he’s sure to watch on channels such as Fox News,” the Sentinel reports. “That’s the aim of the latest effort, which seeks to drive a wedge between Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who will preside over the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress at which the electoral votes making Joe Biden the next president will be counted.”

The ad focuses on recent reports that say Vice President Mike Pence is “backing away” from Trumpworld’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

“When Mike Pence is backing away from you, you know it’s over,” the ad states.

Watch the ad below.

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‘A Parting Gift to Dictators’: Trump Issues Final Round of Foreign Military Sales in Middle East



On Monday, writing for The Washington Post, columnist Brian Klaas tore into outgoing President Donald Trump for a final round of foreign military sales in the Middle East that function as a “parting gift to dictators” — and suggested he could even be using them to set up a private quid pro quo down the road in his post-presidency.

“All three regimes have abysmal human rights records,” wrote Klaas. “Saudi Arabia has beheaded dissidents, subjugated women and detained female activists who have pushed for reforms, and murdered and dismembered Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The United Arab Emirates is home to torture, arbitrary detention and forced disappearances. Egypt’s dictatorship has carried

“Given past behavior, we know how these weapons will likely be used,” warned Klaas. “Despots will use them to help facilitate war crimes in places such as Yemen and the Sinai Peninsula while maintaining an iron grip over their own populations — all aided and abetted by the U.S. government.”

And even worse, Klaas argued, Trump himself could be using these sales to call in a personal favor from these countries in his post-presidency. “Once Trump leaves the White House, odds are good that he will cash in,” he wrote. “Seen in that light, the recently approved arms sales and military technology transfers are even more worrying. Are they just the beginning of a quid pro quo?”

All of this is occurring as President-elect Joe Biden alleges the Pentagon is obstructing him from getting all of the national security information he requires for the transition — something administration officials deny.

“For the past four years, Trump has painted the image of a United States that consistently sides with tyrants,” concluded Klaas. “Biden now has an opportunity to reverse Trump’s catastrophic foreign policy. He should take it.”

You can read more here.

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