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  • Originally published 07/23/2017

    Why Trump and Mueller aren't Clinton and Starr

    Julian Zelizer

    This comparison misses something pretty fundamental. Starr was working under the independent counsel law that Congress passed in 1978. So Clinton couldn't fire him.

  • Originally published 05/04/2013

    Work ahead for Scottsboro Boys pardons

    Though the Alabama Legislature has cleared the way for posthumous pardons of the Scottsboro Boys, much work — from legal documents to public hearings — remains before the names of the nine black teens wrongly convicted more than 80 years ago are officially cleared.The Scottsboro Boys were convicted by all-white juries of raping two white women on a train in Alabama in 1931. All but the youngest were sentenced to death, even though one of the women recanted her story. All eventually got out of prison. Only one received a pardon before he died.The case became a symbol of the tragedies wrought by racial injustice. It inspired songs, books and films. A Broadway musical was staged in 2010, the same year Washington opened a museum dedicated to the case. The Scottsboro Boys' appeals resulted in U.S. Supreme Court decisions that criminal defendants are entitled to effective counsel and that blacks can't be systematically excluded from criminal juries....

  • Originally published 12/04/2009

    Historian David Reynolds says Obama should pardon John Brown

    [David S. Reynolds, a professor at the CUNY Graduate Center, is the author of “John Brown, Abolitionist” and “Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson.”] IT’S important for Americans to recognize our national heroes, even those who have been despised by history. Take John Brown. Today is the 150th anniversary of Brown’s hanging — the grim punishment for his raid weeks earlier on Harpers Ferry, Va. With a small band of abolitionists, Brown had seized the federal arsen

  • Originally published 07/12/2007

    Excerpts: House Hearings on the Commutation of Scooter Libby's Prison Sentence

    Lee Winningham

    In the aftermath of President Bush’s commutation of I. Lewis Libby’s 30-month prison sentence, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee conducted a hearing in which some testimony invoked references associated with the history of the presidential clemency.  Excerpts follow.

  • Originally published 07/04/2007

    President Bush's Pardons

    Gene Gerard

    HNN EditorThis article was first published in January 2005. On July 2, 2007 President Bush commuted the sentence of Scooter Libby.Traditionally, over the holiday season each year, the president approves of various actions of clemency. George W. Bush recently approved of pardons to four individuals convicted of embezzlement, misapplication of bank funds, possession of counterfeit obligations, and theft. Over the course of his first term, Bush has issued a mere 31 pardons and sen

  • Originally published 03/27/2007

    George Lardner, Jr: What would a pardon for Libby mean?

    ... If Mr. Libby were to accept a traditional presidential pardon — a “full and unconditional” grant of clemency — he would be admitting that he was guilty of the crimes of which he was convicted: obstructing justice, perjury and lying to the F.B.I. Perhaps it shouldn’t be that way, but it is — no ifs, ands or b

  • Originally published 12/28/2006

    Barry Werth: On Ford's Pardon of Nixon

    [Barry Werth is the author of “31 Days: The Crisis that Gave Us the Government We Have Today.”] AMERICA got its first real impression of Gerald Ford on the steamy August morning 33 years ago when he took office as president, and most people instantly liked what they saw. Mr. Ford stood in the driveway of his suburban split-level house, hours before assuming a post he never sought and hoped to avoid having to fill. One of the questions he took was about Harry Truman’s comment when he

  • Originally published 02/20/2005

    Calvin Coolidge: The Disabled Chief Executive

    Robert E. Gilbert

    Scholars often speak of Calvin Coolidge in unflattering terms. He is referred to as "a figurehead president," as having had "no drive," as having been a "do nothing president," as a president "almost totally deficient in powers of leadership," as a "spectator president" and as "lackadaisical." However, a closer analysis of Coolidge reveals that he is perhaps the most misunderstood chief executive in American history.

  • Originally published 08/19/2007

    "Executive Privilege"


    [Mr. Kaiser is the Stanley Kaplan Professor of History and Leadership Studies at Williams College, and the author of American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson, and the Origins of the Vietnam War (2000).] More than thirty years ago, in a brilliant work of legal history, Raoul Berger exploded the idea of executive privilege. Little, it seems, has changed since then.Late last month, the White House refused to allow two former officials, including former White House counsel H