'The pardon power has a politically-checkered past,' says Presidential power expert

"The President of the United States is granted a pardon power, which is on par with the king of England," says SLU Law Professor Greg Willard.

The Randy Tobler Show
February 26, 2020 - 7:30 am

(KFTK) –  Presidential power expert Greg Willard joined Randy to discuss the pardons and commutations handed out by President Trump.

"What we saw earlier this week, was President Trump granted seven pardons, which has the effect of obliterating the convictions of those folks,"  says Willard, "and he granted four commutations of sentences."  

Willard says the pardons are very powerful.

"I think its important for all of our fellow citizens to remind themselves, that the presidential pardon power is, to be blunt, one of the most powerful and unchecked powers that our President has.  And we saw it in full force, earlier this week with the 11 actions President Trump took," says SLU Law Professor Willard. 

Willard says there is normally a formal process for recommending pardons to the President, however, "President Trump, his seven pardons and four commutations earlier this week, did not go through the pardon attorney.  That does not, or in anyway limit or put in question the pardon."

What does Professor Willard think of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's reaction to his commutation?

"I was more than a little surprised that he has been doing the talk show circuit, basically proclaming his innocence and that this was all, to use a common contemporary phrase, a 'witch hunt, and [he] was sent to federal prison in Colorado by a bunch of out of control prosecutors,"  says Willard.

"At the end of the day, Mr Blagojevich was convicted of very-very serious felonies.  Not by a group of rabid prosecutors, not by a group of Republican right-wing crazies. He was convicted by a jury of his peers in Chicago, Illinois.  And all 12 of them unanimously said,   'governor, you are guilty of these serious felonies," reminds Willard. 

Randy and Greg also discuss he use of pardons on the state level.

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