Trump wants to pardon himself, his goons, and some of his family members. Really? Why? Does this mean that Trump is admitting to criminal activity? Normally, the people who require pardons are people who have been found guilty of a crime. Can someone even be pardoned for something they have not been charged with, let alone something they have not been convicted of? If someone has been pardoned for something in advance, does that provide them with a license to actually do that thing they were hypothetically pardoned for? The answers to these questions are surprising, but they also tell us that Trump pardons are on the way.
Will Trump pardon his family and most trusted sycophants?
Millions of people seem to be fantasizing about seeing the Trump family and their vile friends spend time in prison. That is a fun indulgence in these trying times, but it is unlikely that anyone is going to prison. This is because YES, it is possible for someone to get a pardon for “unspecified offenses” before they are indicted or even before an investigation starts!
Since the beginning, Presidential pardons have been notorious and politically charged. Giving the President the power to pardon was controversial because there was a fear that a President would order someone to do something illegal and then simply pardon that someone. Ultimately, pardons have the potential to be an outrageous abuse of power. These days, America seems to be living the fear–allegedly.
Perhaps the most famous pardon of them all was for former President Richard Nixon. Many people were very upset that Nixon was pardoned, and some believe pardoning Nixon contributed to former President Gerald Ford losing the 1976 election. Nevertheless, Nixon was pardoned for anything he did, or might have done while he was President.
“all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974”President Gerald R. Ford’s Proclamation 4311, Granting a Pardon to Richard Nixon
Nixon’s pardon answers all of the nagging questions about Trump and if he will pardon every person he has ever come in contact with. Despite the fact that it is an admission of guilt to accept a pardon, the only thing anyone in Trump’s administration or sinister circle needs to fear is the loss of their reputation. Frankly, that ship has already sailed.
Is it really such a bad thing for Trump to award pardons to his entire cabal of sycophantic democracy destroyers? Yes, it is, but there are also consequences to sweet justice. Ford justified Nixon’s pardon with consideration of the political climate of the time. It was believed that prosecuting Nixon would extend the political divisiveness that had gripped the nation, and that the sooner everything might return to normal, the better it would be for the nation.
It is believed that a trial of Richard Nixon, if it became necessary, could not fairly begin until a year or more has elapsed. In the meantime, the tranquility to which this nation has been restored by the events of recent weeks could be irreparably lost by the prospects of bringing to trial a former President of the United States. The prospects of such trial will cause prolonged and divisive debate over the propriety of exposing to further punishment and degradation a man who has already paid the unprecedented penalty of relinquishing the highest elective office of the United States.President Gerald R. Ford’s Proclamation 4311, Granting a Pardon to Richard Nixon
People seemed a lot less confused about the differences between right and wrong in Nixon’s day. These days, a substantial number of people do not seem to understand how Trump and his family’s actions are unethical and sometimes criminal. Several long and drawn out trials involving Trump and his family might tear the nation apart. Not only would the millions of Trump supporters need to be convinced that Trump did something wrong, but the courts would need to be convinced that Trump, his family, and his friends willfully committed fraud on purpose. It could be a spoiled can of worms best left unopened.
Instead, it might be wise to cling to the same cold comfort that Gerald Ford did. If the recipients of Trump’s pardons accept those pardons, they are confessing their guilt. It is better than nothing–probably. The final verdict is that Presidents are above the law.
Can Trump pardon himself?
Everything defies reason in Trump’s America, so–probably yes. After all, Trump did manage to stack the SCOTUS in his favor. In bad news for Trump, it was determined in the past that President COULD NOT pardon themselves. The exact same debate occurred during the Watergate scandal. Nixon’s lawyer claimed a self-pardon was possible, while the Department of Justice asserted that Nixon was unable to provide himself with a pardon. Strangely, the DOJ did offer a bizarre solution that would not provoke much surprise if Trump were to pursue this option:
If under the Twenty-Fifth Amendment the President declared that he was temporarily unable to performMEMORANDUM OPINION FOR THE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL, 1974
the duties of the office, the Vice President would become Acting President and as such could pardon
the President. Thereafter the President could either resign or resume the duties of his office.
The spectacle of this shameless ploy might be worth the price of the pardon. The reward is that Trump will be forever remembered as the most slippery sleaze of a president to ever hold office. Trump’s acceptance of a pardon will solidify his legacy as a President so corrupt that he shamelessly thumbs his nose at every political and legal institution that Americans care about. It is not justice, but it might be all anyone can expect when a President can be above the law.