Trump Uses Pardon Power to Keep Friends Out of Jail
When Donald Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio last year before the former Arizona sheriff could even be sentenced for criminal contempt of court, I wrote it reminded me of that adage of South American dictators: “For my friends, anything. For my enemies, the law.”
Donald Trump’s latest allegation is that the FBI planted a “spy” in his presidential campaign and therefore the whole investigation into its ties to Russia is illegitimate.
This is hyperbole. Both Adam Schiff, the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and Marco Rubio, a Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, have dismissed the president’s claim as nonsense.
What appears to have happened is that somebody in the campaign talked to the FBI — far from a spy, at best an informant.
This was when the bureau had already started investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, having been warned by foreign intelligence agencies and undoubtedly alarmed by the proliferation of Kremlin-friendly operatives around Trump, from Michael Flynn to Paul Manafort to Carter Page. Read more
Throughout the Catalan independence crisis, the Spanish government of Mariano Rajoy has taken a legalistic approach. It rejected a referendum in October, arguing it was impossible under Spanish law. When the region voted anyway, Rajoy let prosecutors and judges go after the leaders of the independence movement, never once proposing to meet for negotiations, much less to hash out a compromise.
Now the same government is criticizing Germany for allowing the legal process to play out in the case of former Catalan president — and fugitive from Spanish justice — Carles Puigdemont. Read more
Left-Right Coalition Would Be Best Outcome for Italy
There are two realistic outcomes to Italy’s election on Sunday: a right-wing government that includes the xenophobic Brothers of Italy and Northern League or a German-style grand coalition between Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the Democrats.
The second would be better for Italy and for Europe. To make that outcome more likely, Italians should vote for the center-left. Read more
Axios reports that President Donald Trump envies countries that execute drug dealers, tells confidants a softer approach to drug reform will never work and that America needs to teach its children they’ll die if they take drugs.
His administration is looking into triggering five-year mandatory minimum sentences for traffickers who deal as little as two grams of fentanyl. Currently, the threshold is forty grams.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be lethal in extremely small doses. Overdose deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids have increased sixfold since 2013, outstripping those from every other drug.