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Sessions lessons

Charles Krauthammer on

But beyond character and beyond ideology lies the most appalling aspect of the Sessions affair -- reviving the idea of prosecuting Clinton.

In the 2016 campaign, there was nothing more disturbing than crowds chanting "lock her up," often encouraged by Trump and his surrogates. After the election, however, Trump reconsidered, saying he would not pursue Clinton who "went through a lot and suffered greatly."

Now under siege, Trump has jettisoned magnanimity. Maybe she should be locked up after all.

This is pure misdirection. Even if every charge against Clinton were true and she got 20 years in the clink, it would change not one iota of the truth -- or falsity -- of the charges of collusion being made against the Trump campaign.

Moreover, in America we don't lock up political adversaries. They do that in Turkey. They do it (and worse) in Russia. Part of American greatness is that we don't criminalize our politics.

Last week, Trump spoke at the commissioning of the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier. Ford was no giant. Nor did he leave a great policy legacy. But he is justly revered for his decency and honor. His great gesture was pardoning Richard Nixon, an act for which he was excoriated at the time and which cost him the 1976 election.

It was an act of political self-sacrifice, done for precisely the right reason. Nixon might indeed have committed crimes. But the spectacle of an ex-president on trial and perhaps even in jail was something Ford would not allow the country to go through.

In doing so, he vindicated the very purpose of the presidential pardon. On its face, it's perverse. It allows one person to overturn equal justice. But the Founders understood that there are times, rare but vital, when social peace and national reconciliation require contravening ordinary justice. Ulysses S. Grant amnestied (technically: paroled) Confederate soldiers and officers at Appomattox, even allowing them to keep a horse for the planting.

In Trump World, the better angels are not in evidence.

To be sure, Trump is indeed examining the pardon power. For himself and his cronies.

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Charles Krauthammer's email address is letters@charleskrauthammer.com.

(c) 2017, The Washington Post Writers Group

 

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