The U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday that two U.S.-based law firms were among the victims of a “complex transnational organized cyber-crime network” that has been taken down, thanks to a law enforcement effort involving cooperation between U.S. and European officials.
The DOJ’s statement did not specify the names of the entities, only that one was a law firm in Washington, D.C., and another was a law office in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
The hackers were using the GozNym malware, which is designed to capture online banking login credentials. The hackers then gain access to bank accounts and steal money from victims by laundering those funds through U.S. and foreign beneficiary bank accounts controlled by the hackers. All in all, the group was hoping to make out with more than $100 million, the DOJ said.
This isn’t the first time that law firms have been the targets of cyberattacks—and it likely won’t be the last. The American Lawyer reported in January that an unnamed U.S. firm had been hacked by the Chinese government-sponsored group called APT10 between November 2017 and September 2018.
A study conducted by IBM in 2018 found that it takes about six months to discover that a breach has occurred, and then an average of 69 days to contain the breach. Law firms, because of the sensitive information they possess regarding their various clients, are a very attractive target for those looking to obtain data to sell or expose. By hacking one system, attackers can get information on potentially hundreds of companies and individuals.
According to the indictment, Alexander Konovolov, aka “NoNe” and “none_1,” of Tbilisi, Georgia, was the organizer and leader of the GozNym network that controlled about 41,000 victim computers infected with the malware.
U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady of the Western District of Pennsylvania made the announcement of the indictments at Europol in The Hague, Netherlands.
“International law enforcement has recognized that the only way to truly disrupt and defeat transnational, anonymized networks is to do so in partnership,” Brady said. “The collaborative and simultaneous prosecution of the members of the GozNym criminal conspiracy in four countries represents a paradigm shift in how we investigate and prosecute cybercrime. Cybercrime victimizes people all over the world. This prosecution represents an international cooperative effort to bring cybercriminals to justice.”
The defendants reside in Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova and Bulgaria. Without the hope of extradition to the United States, five of the hackers who reside in Russia remain at large.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles A. “Tod” Eberle, the chief of national security and cybercrime for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
Since Roe v. Wade declared in 1973 that abortion was legal in the US, anti-abortion activists have worked to chip away at abortion access.
Over the years, states have imposed measures like Targeted Restriction on Abortion Providers (TRAP) Laws, fetal heartbeat limits, and required waiting periods to make it more difficult to seek the procedure.
Alabama’s legislature recently passed a near-total ban on abortions, one of several extreme abortion laws passed nationwide — all of which appear to be part of a larger effort to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The US Supreme Court declared abortion was legal and that women had a constitutional right to the procedure with the landmark case Roe v. Wade in 1973.
But the reality of that right today varies considerably across the states.
Since then, anti-abortion activists and lawmakers have found ways around Roe to make it as difficult as possible for women to get the procedure in most states. In 2018, for instance, 15 states adopted 27 new restrictions on abortion and family planning. The year before, states added 63 new abortion restrictions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a leading research and policy organization on reproductive health.
The most recent win for anti-abortion activists occurred in May when Alabama’s Republican-controlled state legislature passed a near-total ban on abortions in the state. The bill, which is expected to be signed into law by the state’s Republican governor, Kay Ivey, criminalizes the procedure for doctors, who could face up to 99 years in prison. The law also makes no exceptions for victims of rape or incest, and only allows the woman to have the procedure if her life is at serious risk.
The Alabama ban is just one of several extreme abortion laws recently passed — all of which appear to be part of a larger effort to overturn Roe v. Wade. Anti-abortion lawmakers hope Alabama’s bill will be challenged in court and ultimately make its way to the Supreme Court, which has swung increasingly conservative since President Donald Trump took office.
Here’s a look at some of the major state laws that are restricting access to abortion across the country:
Nine states specify the size of the procedure rooms, eight specify the width of the clinic corridors, and 10 require physicians to have either admission privileges at a nearby hospital, or an alternative arrangement like an agreement with a physician who has admitting privileges, in case complications arise — even though less than 0.5% of abortions result in complications that require a hospital visit.
An Alabama law mandated that abortion clinics cannot be within 2,000 yards from a school before a judge struck it down.
The most famous law, Texas’s HB2, went all the way to the Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. In June 2016, the high court struck it down in a 5-3 decision.
The justices concluded that the law “provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an ‘undue burden’ on their constitutional right to do so.”
Though SCOTUS deemed Texas’s TRAP law unconstitutional, 24 states still have laws on the books that “regulate abortion providers and go beyond what is necessary to ensure patients’ safety,” according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Specific week bans
One of the most common ways to restrict abortions is to set limits on when women can get them. Specific week bans, the most popular of which is the 20-week ban, only allow abortions before 20 weeks into the pregnancy, for example.
In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court didn’t specify when abortions were legal, deciding at the time to vaguely make it unconstitutional to outlaw them up until the fetus was “viable,” since the science hadn’t (and still hasn’t) determined at the time when that was, medically speaking.
States have seized on this ambiguity and passed specific week bans. A whopping 43 states have passed some type of gestational limit, usually only allowing exceptions to if the mother’s life is in danger.
According to 2014 data, 89% of elective abortions occur in the first trimester of pregnancy. The vast majority of the 10% that occur after are for medical reasons.
In December 2016, the Ohio legislature passed a bill that would ban abortion after the fetus’ heartbeat can be detected.
Gov. John Kasich vetoed the so-called heartbeat bill, saying it was “clearly contrary to the Supreme Court of the United States’ current rulings on abortion,” and that signing it into law would ensure the “State of Ohio will be forced to pay hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars” in a losing lawsuit. (He also signed a 20-week ban into law that same day).
In recent months, the governors of Mississippi, Ohio, Kentucky and Georgia have signed bills banning abortion after a heartbeat can be detected. A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against Kentucky’s bill, and similar laws have been struck down in Iowa and North Dakota.
Georgia’s “heartbeat bill,” which was signed into law by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in May, and will become enforceable in 2020 (unless it is challenged in court before then), is considered one of the strictest anti-abortion bills in the country. The law includes provisions that would establish fetuses as full people under the law — meaning the doctors who perform the procedure, or the women who seek it, could be criminalized.
In March of 2016, Utah passed a law requiring patients undergoing an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy to be put under anesthesia or given pain killers, based off the medically unsubstantiated claim that fetuses are able to feel physical pain.
A 2005 study on the issue of fetal pain found that the nerve and perception systems are not developed enough for a fetus to feel pain until 29 or 30 weeks of pregnancy, a point at which practically zero abortions occur.
Thirteen states currently require abortion providers to counsel women undergoing the procedure on the unproven fetal pain claim.
Personhood initatives seek to define unborn embryos and fetuses as people under the law, affording them all the same rights and thus effectively classifying abortion as murder. For instance, Republican State Rep. Ginny Ehrhart said in an interview with Fox & Friends that Georgia’s “heartbeat bill” establishes “personhood at the point that the human heartbeat is detected.”
The debate around “personhood” also played out in Alabama in May, when the state’s Senate approved a measure that would outlaw almost all abortions in the state, paving the way for the nation’s most restrictive abortion bill. The law makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest, and doctors who perform the procedure could face up to 99 years in prison. The bill’s supporters said that allowing exceptions would weaken the law’s argument for the personhood of the fetus.
There are other federal and state laws that make provisions to prosecute people who injure fetuses. Several states have laws that prosecute mothers who use illegal drugs while pregnant, and the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act makes it illegal to harm a fetus while killing or injuring the mother in a federal crime.
Bans on “partial birth” abortion
Twenty states currently ban what is termed “partial-birth” abortion, in which the fetus or fetal tissue is removed from the uterus, following a 2007 Supreme Court case that allowed bans on such procedures.
But doctors say the phrase “partial-birth” is misleading and inaccurate. “One can’t be partially born. In obstetrics, you are pregnant or you aren’t, and you are delivered or you are not,” Dr. Jennifer Gunter, an OBGYN and abortion provider, explained in the Huffington Post in 2016.
What lawmakers call “partial-birth” abortions are medically defined as dilation and evacuation (D&E), a surgical procedure used in late-term miscarriages and abortions to remove the fetal tissue as safely as possible. They account for less than 0.5% of all abortions.
Trump falsely claimed during the campaign that an OB-GYN can “rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby,” an assertion that caught fire among abortion opponents.
The bill, however, didn’t make it far. In the 1976 case Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth, the US Supreme Court ruled that requiring the permission of the fetus’ father or the spouse of someone seeking an abortion is unconstitutional.
In an interview with The Intercept in February 2017, the bill’s author, state Rep. Justin Humphrey, said he wanted to make sure men were included in women’s decisions to have abortions.
“I understand that [women] feel like that is their body. I feel like it is a separate — what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.’ And you know when you enter into a relationship you’re going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that then take all precautions and don’t get pregnant,” he said.
Cutting public funding
Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has prohibited federal Medicaid funding from subsidizing abortions except in rare exceptions of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger.
Several individual states have since followed suit, with 32 prohibiting the use of state funding for abortions of low-income women on government assistance.
Title X gives grants to clinics so that low-income and uninsured patients can access family planning services they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.
Bans on abortion coverage in private insurance plans
Ten states currently ban private insurance companies from offering plans that include abortion coverage to any resident.
An additional 15 states ban a combination of state and federal employees, those who receive coverage through Medicaid, and/or those who purchase health plans through the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act from purchasing plans that include abortion coverage.
Some of these states do make exceptions for incest, rape, and danger to the pregnant person’s life, and/or allow the purchase of abortion coverage at an additional cost.
Requiring waiting periods
Twenty-seven states require people seeking an abortion to undergo a 24- to 72-hour waiting period between receiving abortion counseling and actually undergoing the procedure.
Fourteen of those states mandate patients make two trips to a facility by requiring the counseling take place in-person before the waiting period begins.
A 2013 study from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project found that a third of women reported that the required counseling and multiple clinic visits “negatively affected their emotional well-being.”
The women surveyed traveled an average of 42 miles to get to a clinic, and spent an average of $146 to cover the additional transportation and childcare costs (59% of women who get abortions in the US are mothers already).
While advocates of these periods say they’re necessary for a patient to truly make an informed decision about terminating her pregnancy, research disputes that claim.
A separate study published in 2012 that surveyed 5,100 women who had to undergo a waiting period and multiple trips to a clinic concluded: “In nearly nine out of 10 cases, women expressed high confidence in their abortion decision before they received any counseling; these women would likely not benefit from additional mandated counseling or delay.”
Seventeen states require that for medication abortions — a safe and common method for first-trimester abortions — the doctor who prescribed the medication must be physically present while the patient takes it.
The FDA approved mifepristone for medication abortions in 2000. To terminate the pregnancy, the woman takes one pill, then another pill 24 to 48 hours later.
In states with this requirement, women have to have doctors watch them take both pills in person, adding an additional access barrier for those who live in rural areas.
An additional 12 states let providers refuse to administer contraception, nine states let institutions refuse to provide contraception-related services, and six let pharmacy workers refuse to fill prescriptions related to contraception or abortion.
These laws can impose burdens on people seeking abortion-related services if their state allows anyone to deny them.
Some of these refusal laws came into the spotlight in June 2018, when a pharmacist in Arizona refused to fill a prescription for a drug to expel a fetus prescribed to a woman having an involuntary miscarriage. The pharmacist’s refusal to do so, based off his religious beliefs, is legal under Arizona law.
Thirty-four states require that patients receive counseling and be given certain information before undergoing an abortion procedure.
While most of these states provide largely accurate information about fetal development, gestational age, and potential risks, some require doctors to provide blatantly misleading or inaccurate information.
Thirteen states require doctors to inform patients of medically un-proven claims that fetuses can feel pain, six states mandate that patients be told personhood begins at conception, and four states provide false information that an abortion can be “reversed” with a pill during the procedure.
Blocking physician assistants and advanced practice nurses from administering medication
Thirty-four states require that those who prescribe the drug mifepristone for non-surgical abortions preformed in the first trimester of pregnancy must be licensed physicians, despite the World Health Organization’s guidelines that physician’s assistants and advanced practice nurses can safely administer the drug as well.
These restrictions on who can administer medication abortion limit the ability to access such drugs, and abortion overall.
Eleven US states require abortion providers to conduct ultrasounds on patients before undergoing an abortion, with nine of them mandating that patients be given the option to view the ultrasound image.
Three states — Louisiana, Texas, and Wisconsin — go as far to require that the provider show and describe the ultrasound image.
Numerous studies have shown that these requirements are largely ineffective, and don’t have much of an impact on patients considering abortion.
A researcher with the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, which conducted a 2013 study of 300 women who underwent the mandated ultrasounds and descriptions of the images, concluded that “women reported being equally confident about their decision after seeing the ultrasound and hearing its description.”
A 2014 study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology that surveyed over 15,000 women who underwent an abortion found that 98% of those who looked at an ultrasound went on to terminate their pregnancies.
Exempting sex selection or disability
Eight states ban abortions based on the sex of the fetus, Arizona bans abortion based on race, and three states require counseling for perinatal hospice services if the fetus has a fatal abnormality.
In 2017, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill to outlaw abortions of fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome.
But a federal judge granted an injunction against the law after the ACLU and other groups challenged it in court, ruling that it was unconstitutional on the grounds of the Fourteenth Amendment. A court struck down a similar measure passed in Indiana.
North Dakota’s ban on abortions of fetuses diagnosed with Downs syndrome is effectively un-enforceable, since the state’s one abortion clinic does not perform abortions after 16 weeks, according to USA Today.
While sex-based abortions of female fetuses are more commonplace in countries such as China and India, there is not substantial evidence that it occurs on a widespread basis in the United States. The sex of a fetus is not clearly discernible until between 16 and 20 weeks of pregnancy, and 95% of abortions take place before the 16-week mark, according to 2014 data.
Parental consent or notification
Thirty-seven states require parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion, mandating some combination of parental notification, consent, or both 24 to 48 hours before the procedure. Several states allow other relatives or legal guardians to give the consent.
All of these states allow minors to get around the parental involvement requirements if they get a waiver from a judge and meet certain conditions. They also allow for exceptions in cases of medical emergency, incest, assault, or neglect of a minor.
Requiring abortion clinics to bury or cremate the remains of fetuses
In the past few years, at least five states have introduced and passed laws requiring that fetal remains resulting from abortions, miscarriages, or stillbirths be either cremated or buried, regardless of the patient’s wishes and largely at the patient’s expense.
The states that have imposed these laws have claimed they are necessary to preserve the “dignity” of the fetus, but abortion-rights advocates say they are simply another way of shaming and imposing additional burdens on women who choose abortion.
While North Carolina’s requirement is still intact, federal judges struck down both Texas’ and Indiana’s attempts to enact such laws. Indiana has since appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and a similar measure was also passed by Ohio’s Senate in March.
“Regulations to require burial or cremation of fetal tissue further stigmatize abortion services and pregnancy loss, and may contradict the wishes of abortion patients,” Guttmacher said in 2018.
Trigger laws if Roe falls
If the Supreme Court even reverses itself and overturns Roe v. Wade, seven states have trigger laws that would immediately make abortion illegal within their borders. Tennessee most recently signed one of these bills into law.
Nine states have their pre-Roe abortion bans still in effect that currently aren’t enforced, which would go into effect if Roe ever falls. On the flip side, seven states have laws that would keep abortion legal if the court strikes down Roe.
State funding for crisis pregnancy centers
Crisis pregnancy centers, or CPCs, are centers with the goal to dissuade pregnant women from seeking abortion. They are commonly affiliated with anti-abortion religious groups.
CPCs have come under scrutiny in recent years for masquerading as legitimate medical providers (some are licensed to administer sonograms or pregnancy tests but many are not) to provide false or misleading claims about abortion to unsuspecting patients seeking fact-based information about the practice.
A 2006 Congressional report found 87% of CPCs surveyed disseminated medically discredited claims that abortion is linked to breast cancer, mental illness, uterine damage, and infertility. Others have been reported to intentionally mislead women about abortion laws in their state or even how far along they are in their pregnancies.
Many CPCs even use confusing names and signage to trick patients into believing they are abortion clinics. Several have the word “choice” in their name, and some strategically locate themselves next to abortion clinics or park buses outside of them, offering free ultrasounds to lure women inside.
Partially thanks to about $60 million in federal funding combined with millions more in funding from states, CPCs have become widespread in America, outnumbering actual abortion clinics in many areas. Mississippi, for example, has 38 crisis pregnancy centers, one of which is located across the street from the state’s one remaining abortion clinic.
In 2019, the federal Department of Health and Human Services announced that it would be awarding as much as $5.1 million to The Obria Group, a national network of crisis pregnancy clinics opposed to abortion. The group plans to use the grant to fund programs including sexual risk avoidance education and natural family planning.
“Choose Life” license plates
One of the subtle ways states fund CPCs and other anti-abortion efforts are by selling specialized “choose life” license plates through their Department of Motor Vehicles, going for anywhere between $25 and $70.
Seventeen of the 32 states that offer such plates donate part of the proceeds to CPCs or other anti-abortion organizations, and 19 give proceeds to adoption agencies or adoption counseling services.
Ten states prohibit revenue from “choose life” plates from funding any organizations that offer abortion services, counseling, or referrals.
Some organizations have criticized states for the practice, arguing that the government cannot legally use taxpayer money to explicitly endorse certain political views over others. The matter has not yet been challenged in court.
Restrictions on Plan B
Though not technically an abortion restriction because emergency contraception prevents sperm from fertilizing an egg, laws restricting access to Plan B and other forms of emergency contraception can keep women from choosing to get pregnant, too.
Plan B One-Step was approved by the FDA for over-the-counter purchase in 2013, and many states have chosen to expand access to emergency contraception, but others restrict access to the drug, which prevents fertilization when taken shortly after unprotected sex.
Nine states restrict access to emergency contraception, with six permitting pharmacists to refuse to dispense any contraceptives, and three allowing them to deny dispensing only emergency contraception.
Arkansas and North Carolina additionally do not include emergency contraception in their contraceptive coverage mandates, and Texas excludes contraception from its state family planning programs.
Laws around the protection of abortion clinics
In many areas, abortion clinics are frequented by protestors outside who often intimidate and harass patients who try to enter, presenting a significant deterrent to patients as they enter and creating a general safety hazard.
Only 14 states have laws that protect patients and staff at clinics from being harassed and intimidated in this manner.
While 12 states prohibit blocking the entrance to a clinic, only six make it a crime to harass abortion providers or patients, three make vandalism and property damage of clinics illegal, and two prohibit harassing clinics by telephone.
Criminal Mindswon’t air season 15 until midway through the 2019-2020 TV season.
TV Guidereports the final season will likely premiere in late winter or early spring.
The show’s usual time slot on Wednesdays will be taken over by S.W.A.T.
It’s a tough time to be a Criminal Minds fan. First, the series broke our hearts after revealing the show is ending in season 15. Now the procedural is adding salt to the wound by announcing that the final episodes won’t even air this year.
TV Guide first reported the news that the FBI’s behavioral analysis unit was noticeably absent from its usual spot on Wednesday nights. Ironically enough, the time slot will be filled by former Criminal Minds star Shemar Moore’s new show, S.W.A.T. Of course, loyal viewers remember Shemar as the hunky Derek Morgan.
It might be an entire year before the BAU graces our small screens again.
There’s still no word on the exact premiere date for season 15, but according to the publication “it’s likely CBS will run the final 10 episodes in late winter or early spring.” With season 14 finishing up back in February, that means viewers might wait a year—or even longer—for new episodes. As for what those sure-to-be thrilling installments will entail, the cast and crew have been careful not to reveal any spoilers.
Criminal Minds isn’t the only show that’s being held until midseason. Both MacGyverand Man with a Plan are being benched, too. Thenetwork is also introducing three new shows in the middle of the TV season: FBI: Most Wanted,Tommy, and Broke, which stars former NCIS actress Pauley Perrette.
President Trump has indicated that he is considering pardons for several American military members accused or convicted of war crimes, including high-profile cases of murder, attempted murder and desecration of a corpse, according to two United States officials.
The officials said that the Trump administration had made expedited requests this week for paperwork needed to pardon the troops on or around Memorial Day.
One request is for Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher of the Navy SEALs, who is scheduled to stand trial in the coming weeks on charges of shooting unarmed civilians and killing an enemy captive with a knife while deployed in Iraq.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said they had not seen a complete list, and did not know if other service members were included in the request for pardon paperwork.
The White House sent requests on Friday to the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney, which alerted the military branches, according to one senior military official. Pardon files include background information and details on criminal charges, and in many cases include letters describing how the person in question has made amends.
The official said while assembling pardon files typically takes months, the Justice Department stressed that all files would have to be complete before Memorial Day weekend, because the President planned to pardon the men then. A second United States official confirmed the request concerning Chief Gallagher.
The military branches referred questions to the Justice Department, which declined to comment on the matter.
Mr. Trump has often bypassed traditional channels in granting pardons and wielded his power freely, sometimes in politically charged cases that resonate with him personally, such as the conviction of the former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. Earlier this month, the president pardoned former Army First Lt. Michael Behenna, who had been convicted of killing an Iraqi during an interrogation in 2008.
While the requests for pardon files are a strong sign of the president’s plans, Mr. Trump has been known to change his mind and it is not clear what the impetus was for the requests. But most of the troops who are positioned for a pardon have been championed by conservative lawmakers and media organizations, such as Fox News, which have portrayed them as being unfairly punished for trying to do their job. Many have pushed for the president to intervene. The White House declined to comment.
Pardoning several accused and convicted war criminals at once, including some who have not yet gone to trial, has not been done in recent history, legal experts said. Some worried that it could erode the legitimacy of military law and undercut good order and discipline in the ranks.
“These are all extremely complicated cases that have gone through a careful system of consideration. A freewheeling pardon undermines that whole system,” said Gary Solis, a retired military judge and armor officer who served in Vietnam. “It raises the prospect in the minds of the troops that says, ‘Whatever we do, if we can get the folks back home behind us, maybe we can get let off.’”
Chief Gallagher’s lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, was surprised by the news that the president could be considering a pardon, and said ideally the chief would be acquitted at trial.
“We want the opportunity to exonerate my client,” Mr. Parlatore said in an interview. “At the same time, there is always a risk in going to trial. My primary objective is to get Chief Gallagher home to his family. To that end, Chief Gallagher would welcome any involvement by the president.”
Other than violating military law, the cases the president is said to be considering defy easy categorization.
Navy SEALs who served with Chief Gallagher told authorities he indiscriminately shot at civilians, gunning down a young woman in a flowered hijab and an unarmed old man. They also said he stabbed a teenage captive, then bragged about it in text messages. His trial is set to start at the end of this month. If convicted, he faces life in prison. He has pleaded not guilty and denies all charges.
Major Golsteyn is charged with killing an Afghan man that he and other soldiers said had bomb-making materials. After an interrogation, the soldiers let the man go. Fearing that the man would return to making improvised explosives, which had already killed two Marines in the area, Major Golsteyn later said he killed the man.
Mr. Trump has singled both men out on Twitter, calling Major Golsteyn a “U.S. Military hero,” and praising Chief Gallagher for his service to the country.
The Blackwater contractor, Nicholas A. Slatten, is one of several Blackwater contractors charged in the killing of 17 Iraqis and the wounding of 20 more on a Baghdad street. After a number of mistrials and other delays, he is the only one who has been convicted.
The Marines charged in urinating on the corpse of a Taliban fighter were caught after a video of the act was found.
The fact that the requests were sent from the White House to the Justice Department, instead of the other way around, is a reversal of long-established practices, said Margaret Love, who served as the United States pardon attorney during the first Bush administration and part of the Clinton administration.
Long ago, presidents wielded clemency power directly, Ms. Love said, but that changed at the end of the Civil War when President Lincoln delegated review of clemency requests to his attorney general. Since then, cases have generally been vetted by Justice Department lawyers before being sent to the president.
President Trump has upended that practice, often issuing pardons with little or no notice to the Justice Department, she said, adding that the fact the department is requesting files on men like Chief Gallagher at all suggests that Attorney General William P. Barr is trying to re-exert some authority over the process.
Process aside, she said that pardoning the men would be an abrupt departure from the past.
“Presidents use pardons to send messages. They recognize when a process wasn’t just or when punishments were too extreme, like for some nonviolent drug cases,” she said. “If this president is planning to pardon a bunch of people charged with war crimes, he will use the pardon power to send a far darker message.”