The clock is running on one of the greatest mistakes of the American republic: the presidency of Barack Obama. By Jan. 20, he will be gone and President-elect Donald Trump will have the opportunity to lead America for four or possibly eight years.
But there is still a month and a half left for Mr. Obama to do as much damage has he can on the way out.
Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution vests the president with a very broad power to pardon or commute sentences. Mr. Obama has used this power already and if the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency is anything to go by, we can expect a flurry of activity right before President-elect Trump is sworn in. On Mr. Clinton’s last day in office, he pardoned 140 people, including billionaire financier Marc Rich and even his own brother.
The line is already forming for pardons. Many on the left has suggested that Obama pre-emptively pardon former Secretary of State and head of the Clinton Crime Family, Hillary Clinton. It is an open question whether President-elect Trump will have the Attorney General reopen the Clinton email case or pursue prosecution for the Clinton Foundation corruption case; but a bigger question is whether Mr. Obama will even offer her a pardon.
Former congressman and convicted felon Jesse Jackson Jr. is shooting for an even bigger prize. He wants Mr. Obama to pardon everyone who has served their sentence. This would include Mr. Jackson, who was convicted in 2013 for using campaign funds for personal uses. A mass pardon like that would allow Mr. Jackson, who was a congressman from Illinois to run for Congress again.
Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl is asking for a pardon from Mr. Obama on the way out. He is currently facing trial for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Those charges could get him a life sentence.
There is one potential action Mr. Obama could take that is currently flying under the radar.
He could commute the sentence of Omar Abdul Rahman. Rahman is known as the Blind Sheik. He is currently serving a life sentence for his role in 1990’s terrorist conspiracies and his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
Radical Islamists have been calling for the release of the Blind Sheik for decades. In 2012, the leader of Egypt, Mohammad Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood backed dictator, demanded the release of the Blind Sheik. Media reports in 2012 claimed that the Obama administration was negotiating with the Morsi regime to arrange the release of the Blind Sheik to Egypt. Before any deal could be finalized, Morsi was overthrown in a coup in 2013.
Would the Obama administration release the Blind Sheik?
Andrew McCarthy, who prosecuted Rahman in the 1990’s and is now a columnist for the National Review, predicted in 2015 that the Obama administration would try to free the Blind Sheik before Obama leaves office in 2017.
There is nothing to stop Obama from commuting the Blind Sheik’s sentence and deporting him to any country willing to take him. Given Obama’s willingness to help the jihadists who are waging war against the west, this is entirely possible.
In 2013, Emad Salem, the informant who helped bring Rahman to justice, warned that if Rahman were released, “He will kill Americans.”
I’ll go out on a limb and predict that Rahman’s sentence will be commuted by Obama before he leaves office. And as for the warning from Salem that Rahman will kill Americans?
That won’t bother Obama in the least.