Audacity

Dr. E. Faye Williams

(TriceEdneyWire.com) The word  ‘audacity’ means: boldness, especially with confident or arrogant disregard for personal safety, conventional thought or other restrictions; effrontery or insolence; shameless boldness.

In the region of my birth, people who were reared there are familiar with the ‘Presidential Pardon.’ We associate “the act of pardon” with French pirates Jean and Pierre Lafitte who were best known for their nautical crimes in the Gulf of Mexico. The brothers were audacious smugglers of goods and enslaved people into Louisiana. Jean Lafitte’s significant participation in the defense of New Orleans during the War of 1812 led to the defeat of British forces and earned a pardon from President James Madison for previous crimes.

History is replete with records of presidential pardons. Many pardons, like that of Richard Nixon, received significant criticism—and rightly so. Because of its unpopularity, Nixon’s pardon also notably ended the career of President Gerald Ford, making him the only president in history never to have been popularly elected president or vice-president. Like all political decisions, universal acceptance of specific pardons cannot be expected. Many people deserve pardons, but those sworn to protect and serve us don’t make the cut.

Article II of the U.S. Constitution specifically gives the president authorization to pardon punishment for federal crimes. The U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted this as the power to grant pardons, conditional pardons, commutations of sentence, conditional commutations of sentence, remissions of fines and forfeitures, respites and amnesties. Although critics argue this authority gives too much discretionary power to one person, supporters argue that pardon powers afford necessary protections against judicial excess.

Like most legal constructs enshrined in founding documents and traditions, faith was placed in a continuity of honorable men using measured judgment to reach principled decisions. Despite the questionable character of some leaders in history, most have adhered to the principles of contemporaneously practiced democracy. Few leaders have posed a direct assault against our democracy—until now!

In the past four years, Donald Trump has debased and distorted principles and traditions of government and leadership that have been foundational for our nation.  From the day of his inauguration, he’s supported and promoted laws and practices that buttress his political positions and financial bottom-line. He’s ignored requirements for compliance with laws, traditions and practices with which he disagrees. It’s been determined that he’s told over 22,000 lies to the American public.

Throughout his un-welcomed term, Trump has acted with audacity, an evil type of audacity. He acts with boldness—the type of boldness born of arrogant disregard for the personal safety of our citizenry, conventional thought or restrictions of tradition. He’s shameless in the obvious distortions he presents to the American public and totally disrespectful to those who disagree with him or who refuse to pledge their personal allegiance to him.

One year ago, Trump audaciously commuted the 40-month prison sentence of Roger Stone who had been convicted in Federal Court of seven felony counts.  Adding insult to injury, we recently awakened to the news that Trump had pardoned former National Security Advisor and convicted, self-admitted felon, Michael Flynn.  Flynn was fired over revelations that he had discussed lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia with the Russian ambassador before he took office (a breach of government protocols) and that he had lied to the vice-president about that conversation.

To understand his actions, one must only ask “what’s in it for him?” The common thread between those he has pardoned and those ‘lining up’ for pardons is that they stood witness to the crimes allegedly committed by Trump. When Trump leaves office in January, he leaves the protections against prosecution the U.S. presidency affords him.

I believe Trump is a criminal, and I’m eager to examine the depth of his criminality!

(Dr. E. Faye Williams is president of the National Congress of Black Women and host of Wake Up and Stay Woke on WPFW 89.3 FM.)