President Donald Trump's sudden affection for presidential pardons makes us think of the 1979 Police hit song "Message in a Bottle," with the lyric "Sending out an S-O-S."
With the Russia probe walls closing in, he's hoping that the Michael Cohens of the world get his not-so-subtle message: Don't worry out there. I've got a pardon pen .
And he seems also to be raising a middle finger to those he's called part of "the deep state."
Trump has pardoned five people so far, but he's raised the possibility of pardons for at least a couple more. The list, taken as a whole, suggests Trump's desire to stoke his conspiracy-racked political base and his insatiable desire to settle scores — all while sending some "don't turn on me" signals.
Consider this very, very political list:
-Dinesh D'Souza, a conservative commentator (actually a right-wing troll who posts racist tweets and who spread the lie that George Soros was a Nazi collaborator) who pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud and was sentenced to five years of probation in 2014. (Hint — he was prosecuted by the high-profile U.S. Attorney Trump fired, Preet Bharara, who was investigating some of the Trump controversies.)
-Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, another conservative who campaigned for Trump and called former President Barack Obama's birth certificate fake. Don't forget Arpaio's propensity to hunt for undocumented immigrants.
-Scooter Libby, former Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff who supposedly leaked the identity of Valerie Plame. Scooter Libby has long been thought to have covered for various Cheney sins.
-Ex-Navy sailor Kristian Saucier, who pleaded guilty to keeping classified photographs taken inside a nuclear submarine. Trump, on the campaign trail, often said Saucier was being punished for a lesser offense than his 2016 rival Hillary Clinton, who used a private email server.
-Boxer Jack Johnson, who died in 1946 and was convicted on charges of transporting a white woman across state lines. (Since Johnson is long-since dead, might we think Trump is trying to diminish accusations that he is anti-African American?)
Add to a list of possible pardons:
-Businesswoman Martha Stewart, a conservative and fellow entertainment fixture who spent five months in prison more than a decade ago on charges of conspiracy, lying to federal authorities and obstruction of justice after being investigated for insider trading. She was prosecuted in 2004 by none other than then-U.S. attorney James Comey, the former FBI director Trump fired for, by Trump's own words on national television, "the Russia thing." Stewart also had an "Apprentice" connection.
-Ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is serving a prison sentence after being found guilty of corruption and bribery for attempting to trade the Senate seat left vacant by President Barack Obama. What's more, Blagojevich — and Scooter Libby — were prosecuted by Patrick Fitzgerald, a longtime Comey friend who now is on Comey's legal team. Incidentally, Blagojevich was a contestant on Trump's television show, "The Apprentice."
Way to drain the swamp, Donald.
While you're at it, why not pardon Nixon again — just to send a message to yourself (and in case Obama secretly unpardoned him).