This week, President Donald Trump concluded a four-year campaign to use his office to cover up his own crimes by pardoning his co-conspirators Paul Manafort and Roger Stone.
Manafort and Stone were each involved in the Russia scandal as it proceeded in 2016, while reporting directly to Donald Trump.
They subsequently lied to or refused to cooperate with investigators. They hid information from prosecutors and the public. They covered for Trump. Now he has rewarded them.
Their pardons are more than corrupt. They are part of Trump’s crusade to take revenge on Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation that detailed the Russian attack that helped Trump win, that led to criminal convictions of the president’s aides, and that provided evidence arguably showing that Trump had obstructed justice. The pardons also aim to help Trump himself avoid prosecution when he finally leaves office.
Donald Trump encouraged Vladimir Putin’s attack on the 2016 election —which had the aim of helping Trump win the White House— by denying this assault was real, while he simultaneously sought to exploit Moscow’s operation for his own political gain. Ever since, Trump has strived to hide his own possible criminality and keep this scandal from defining his presidency. With these pardons, that effort is now complete. And with it, he technically pardoned himself.