Statement of Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn
The nation deserved far better than Donald Trump in the White House these last four, very long years. In his final day as President, Donald Trump only continued to show his disregard for our democratic process. Overnight, he pardoned a laundry list of corrupt and convicted politicians, political fundraisers, and rich private citizens, along with still more of his inner circle. The number of Trump’s close political advisers who have been pardoned is staggering. They all join the parade of disgraced Americans and war criminals who were earlier pardoned by President Trump.
Media reports, citing former White House officials, make clear that only Trump’s pending impeachment trial and the possibility of opening himself up to significant civil liability kept him from pardoning himself, his three oldest children, his attorney Rudy Giuliani, politicians who encouraged the insurrection, and perhaps even the insurrectionists themselves.
Trump’s use of the pardon reflects the corrupt way he wielded the power of the presidency to benefit his personal, political, and business interests. And only further reinforced what we saw throughout his presidency – that liberty and justice was only for those who could afford it.
The American people expected and deserved a President who put the well-being of the nation before his personal interests. Donald Trump refused to do so. He would not even concede an election he lost handily to Joe Biden. He spent months lying to his followers, telling them that the election had been stolen, mounting baseless legal challenges to try to throw out the votes from predominantly Black and Brown communities, and finally, after assembling an angry mob at the White House, set it loose on the Capitol in a violent effort to overturn the election.
This afternoon our nation begins a new day under the leadership of President Joe Biden. But Donald Trump must nevertheless be held to account for disrupting the peaceful transfer of power, inciting insurrection in an effort to overturn an election and our very democracy. The Senate must vote to convict Trump in the wake of his second impeachment by the House, and it must take the additional step of prohibiting him from ever holding elected office again. As the nation moves on from the failed and corrupt presidency of Donald Trump, Congress must also address abuses of the pardon power and hold accountable President Trump and any future Presidents who abuse the power of the pardon. The media and government investigators would be wise to carefully scrutinize the pardon process under Donald Trump who ran the most transactional presidential administration in our nation’s history.
Common Cause and our 1.5 million members will make a concerted push for the swift passage of the Protecting Our Democracy Act and other reforms to reinforce that no President is above the law.