Opinion | At the End, the Trump Pardons

To the Editor:

Re “With Hours Left in Office, Trump Grants Clemency to Bannon and Other Allies” (nytimes.com, Jan. 20):

Given Donald Trump’s unprecedented abuse of the pardon power in his last hours as president, there had been a good deal of loose talk on the subject, including that pardons somehow have the effect of wiping out the convictions that underlie them.

In fact, the Justice Department’s own website warns those seeking clemency: “While a presidential pardon will restore various rights lost as a result of the pardoned offense and should lessen to some extent the stigma arising from a conviction, it will not erase or expunge the record of your conviction.”

Beyond that, in Burdick v. United States (1915), the Supreme Court held that the grant of a pardon “carries an imputation of guilt and acceptance of a confession of it.”

Accordingly, those upset by the raft of presidential pardons coming over the last weeks — myself included — can take some solace in the fact that the various murderers and corrupt politicians and businessmen pardoned by Mr. Trump will remain convicted felons to the end of time. Whatever their protestations of innocence, by accepting these pardons they will have, as a matter of law, confessed their guilt.

Elliott B. Jacobson
Yonkers, N.Y.
The writer was an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1985 to 2017. He led the prosecution of Bernard Kerik, the former New York City Police Commissioner, who was later pardoned by President Trump.

To the Editor:

Donald Trump never drained the swamp. He pardoned it.

Tom Goodman

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