• The Star Staff

On centennial of 19th Amendment, Trump pardons Susan B. Anthony

By Maggie Habberman

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that he would pardon Susan B. Anthony, the women’s suffragist who was arrested after voting illegally in 1872 and charged a $100 fine, as he tried to appeal to female voters on the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment giving them the right to vote.

The pardon appeared to be an effort to distract from the Democratic National Convention and narrow the historically large gender gap that has him trailing Joe Biden in the White House race.

“She was never pardoned. Did you know that? She was never pardoned,” Trump said. “What took so long?”

Trump teased the pardon as he traveled on Air Force One on Monday, telling reporters he was going to erase the conviction of someone “very, very important.”

Anthony was tried for illegally voting, and protested the fine that she was charged.

“She was guilty for voting,” Trump said, “and we’re going to be signing a full and complete pardon.”

Unlike other pardons that the president has given, Anthony is not someone whose work Trump has spoken of either in his campaign or during his presidency.

She is also an increasingly divisive figure, adopted by anti-abortion forces and criticized for relegating Black suffragists to the sidelines. On Tuesday, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion political group, and Cleta Mitchell, an attorney who represents conservative groups, were in attendance as Trump made his announcement.

He has pardoned or granted clemency to a number of people he personally knows, such as the former governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, who was serving a prison sentence related to conviction on corruption charges. Trump recently granted clemency to his longtime political adviser, Roger Stone, who was convicted on several charges stemming from the investigation into possible conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

Trump, who has repeatedly been accused of sexual harassment or assault and who has often made degrading comments about women, is facing a deep gender gap in his campaign against Biden. On Tuesday, surrounded by several female supporters, Trump declared that “women dominate the United States” and complained that the coronavirus had darkened the economic picture for women.

People close to the president said that Trump was seeking to create a news story during the Democrats’ convention, where Biden will be nominated.

Advisers believe that unlike some of Trump’s other pardons or grants of clemency, it will be harder to criticize an action benefiting a woman whose actions helped lead to women’s right to vote.

Whether that is the case remains to be seen. Trump has seen an erosion of support with suburban women during his presidency, and his response to the coronavirus pandemic has not helped him.