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Since the series aired, thousands of people signed petitions to Barack Obama asking him to pardon Avery, a request the President denied, saying the case was a federal issue.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3404405/Steven-Avery-reveals-HASN-T-watched-Making-Murderer-directors-discuss-possibility-season-two.html

Although this sentence seems to be easy to understand I am a little bit confused. In my opinion it asserts that the president of the USA cannot pardon Steven Avery because his case is a federal issue. But it contradicts to the statement which was made by the White House regarding the pardon in Steven Avery case and in which is written: "This clemency authority empowers the President to exercise leniency towards persons who have committed federal crimes. (…) However, the President cannot pardon a state criminal offense." So I either do not understand the above sentence or there is a factual mistake in the article. Can you provide me clarification?

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    It's a mistake--a "not" was dropped. It should read "a request the President denied, saying the case was not a federal issue". – StoneyB on hiatus Apr 1 '16 at 22:33
  • Here is the response that the Daily Mail is referencing: petitions.whitehouse.gov/response/… However, the President cannot pardon a state criminal offense. It's an error as @StoneyB pointed out. – ColleenV Apr 1 '16 at 22:35
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As StoneyB indicates above, the most likely explanation is a mistake: the sentence is probably supposed to say the exact opposite, either this:

Since the series aired, thousands of people signed petitions to Barack Obama asking him to pardon Avery, a request the President denied, saying the case was not a federal issue.

or this:

Since the series aired, thousands of people signed petitions to Barack Obama asking him to pardon Avery, a request the President denied, saying the case was a state issue.

Another, more remote possibility is that the sentence is merely very awkward and vague. The term federal can be used either in reference to our national government (our federal government), or in reference to the system whereby powers are divided between our state and national governments (our federal system). So if we interpret "case" to mean "example" (and not specifically "legal case"), and "federal issue" to mean "issue relating to our federal system", then the sentence could be taken to mean something like:

[…] a request the President denied, saying that the situation involved the federal system.

. . . but I think it's much more likely that the sentence is simply a mistake.

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