Many presidents have issued pardons. Most wait until the last days of their presidency to use that presidential power. President Donald Trump didn’t wait. He’s already issued about three dozen pardons or grants of clemency, including a number of very visible ones to political friends or to those with high political profiles.
Trump hasn’t issued the most presidential pardons (that honor goes to Franklin Roosevelt who served four terms), but the Trump pardons have turned heads. A plurality of Americans don’t seem to like them; by a margin of 45 to 29 percent, adults in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll say they think Trump uses pardons inappropriately.
Not surprisingly, the Republican response is much more favorable. Only 11 percent of Republicans call Trump’s use of the pardon power “inappropriate.”
But the case of Roger Stone — the political consultant recently convicted of witness tampering and lying to investigators during Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation into foreign influence in the 2016 election —is somewhat different. Republicans are much more closely divided on Stone’s sentencing and a possible pardon for him.
The president has tweeted several times about Stone, most recently alleging that a juror in the trial was biased. The poll was conducted before that tweet, but after the president had tweeted his support of Stone. There’s not a lot of sympathy for Stone in the poll. By more than two to one, Americans have an unfavorable opinion of him. Republicans are more positive, though by just 39 to 25 percent.
Republicans are even more closely divided on whether Trump should pardon Stone, though (unlike the rest of the public) they would like to see a more lenient punishment.
Republicans believe, by 62 to 13 percent, that the conviction was more of a political prosecution that it was legitimate law enforcement. Americans overall aren’t sure exactly what it was, although those who say they have heard “a lot” about the conviction believe it was proper law enforcement, 56 to 39 percent.