Moments before Judge Amy Berman Jackson handed down a 40-month prison sentence to longtime Trump ally Roger Stone amid speculation that President Donald Trump would issue a pardon to his former adviser, Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner argued that Trump shouldn’t pay any “political price” if he gives the “dirty trickster” clemency because all presidents can do it.
Discussing Stone’s sentencing on Fox News mid-afternoon panel show Outnumbered, co-host Carley Shimkus noted that the news cycle moves so quickly that Trump could afford to make a “controversial decision” on Stone’s pardon as the election is still months away.
Faulkner, meanwhile, said it would be in Trump’s “character” to act quickly on this before reacting to liberal co-host Marie Harf’s observation that Trump “loves this ability to pardon” because it’s a unilateral power.
“All presidents can,” the Fox News anchor stated.
Later in the discussion, Harf said that she is “outraged when any president pardons a personal friend” and that it’s “inappropriate.” At the same time, she said she wasn’t that confident there will be “any political cost” if Trump moves forward with a pardon.
“Why should there be? It’s a pardon. You said moments ago any president can do this,” Faulkner interjected.
“Because you shouldn’t pardon your friends,” Harf exclaimed.
“Either you can do it or you can’t,” Faulkner retorted. “Just because you don’t like it is one thing.”
Harf went on to say the question is actually whether a president “should” and whether there should be a “political price” to pay.
Faulkner, meanwhile, brought up former President Barack Obama pardoning Chelsea Manning while the female-centric show’s lone male guest Brian Kilmeade complained that Manning did “massive damage” to the country by leaking national intelligence documents.
“Did that offend you?” Faulkner asked Harf. “That’s my question for you. Because you said you are offended.”
Harf suggested a better comparison for a potential Stone pardon would be former President Bill Clinton giving financier and donor Marc Rich clemency in 2001, a move that was highly criticized at the time.
“I get the similarities,” Faulkner said. “But if you just wash all of friendships and that away, a president can pardon. If you want to change the right for presidential pardon, I guess we could start there.”
After Harf said that just because a president has a power doesn’t mean he should always use it, the Fox News anchor replied, “What kind of political price do you think the president should pay? Did Bill Clinton have to pay that price for pardoning his friend?”
It should be noted that Clinton’s pardon of Rich came on the final day of his second term, mere hours before he left office for good.
In the following segment, Faulkner welcomed on Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano—who has recently been featured more prominently on Fox News programming for his criticism of Stone’s conviction—to weigh in on Jackson’s sentence.
After saying the judge was attempting to make the case “bullet-proof” to pardon by following the Justice Department’s revised sentencing recommendation, Napolitano openly groused about the DOJ refusing the go after one of Trump’s political nemeses: “The decision not to prosecute Andy McCabe is utterly inexplicable.”
Trump, meanwhile, was closely watching, tweeting out Napolitano’s quote while also tagging Faulkner in the post.
The president, meanwhile, has been laser-focused on Fox News’ coverage of Stone over the past few days as he possibly weighs giving his longtime associate clemency. Currently, he has a clip of Fox News host Tucker Carlson arguing for Stone’s pardon pinned to the top of his Twitter timeline. He also quoted the primetime host—who has been on a yearlong mission to convince Trump to clear Stone—in another tweet.
As for Faulkner, who is often branded as one of the network’s “straight news” anchors, this isn’t the first time she’s suggested the president would be better off pardoning Stone.
Following the uproar the DOJ and Attorney General William Barr faced for overruling the Stone prosecutors sentencing recommendation after Trump blasted it on Twitter, Faulkner said it would all be “completely avoidable” if the president just pardoned his “friend” Stone.