Friday, July 21, 2017

Trump Exploring Pardon Powers - An Admission of Guilt?

Once again I find myself feeling either as I am reliving some of the high drama days of Watergate or, worse yet, Hitler's seizing of power in Germany in 1933.  As the Washington Post reports, Donald Trump, a/k/a Der Trumpenf├╝hrer, is exploring his powers to pardon himself, or his children, staff and other possible co-conspirators as the Russiagate investigations roll forward.  Clearly, Trump increasingly sees himself as above the law and looks to utterly subvert the law and cover up criminal offenses.  Obviously, a pardon is not necessary unless one is guilty of a crime against the United States. Moreover, accepting a presidential pardon is tantamount to an admission of guilt.  If Trump and his children - who seem to be garish modern day versions of Marie Antoinette - have commuted no crimes as claimed, why the need for pardons?  I suspect that the truth is that they are guilty of many crimes - a reality that special prosecutor Robert Mueller may be getting closer to proving - and know that they are guilty.   Here are article highlights: 
Some of President Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort.
Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.
Trump’s legal team declined to comment on the issue. But one adviser said the president has simply expressed a curiosity in understanding the reach of his pardoning authority, as well as the limits of Mueller’s investigation.
With the Russia investigation continuing to widen, Trump’s lawyers are working to corral the probe and question the propriety of the special counsel’s work. They are actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work, according to several of Trump’s legal advisers.
The president is also irritated by the notion that Mueller’s probe could reach into his and his family’s finances, advisers said.
Trump has been fuming about the probe in recent weeks as he has been informed about the legal questions that he and his family could face. His primary frustration centers on why allegations that his campaign coordinated with Russia should spread into scrutinizing many years of Trump dealmaking. He has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns.
Further adding to the challenges facing Trump’s outside lawyers, the team’s spokesman, Mark Corallo, resigned on Thursday, according to two people familiar with his departure. Corallo did not respond to immediate requests for comment.
Trump is coming face-to-face with a powerful investigative team that is able to study evidence of any crime it encounters in the probe — including tax fraud, lying to federal agents and interference in the investigation.
“This is Ken Starr times 1,000,” said one lawyer involved in the case, referring to the independent counsel who oversaw an investigation that eventually led to House impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton. “Of course, it’s going to go into his finances.” 
Some Republicans in frequent touch with the White House said they viewed the president’s decision to publicly air his disappointment with Sessions as a warning sign that the attorney general’s days were numbered. Several senior aides were described as “stunned” when Sessions announced Thursday morning he would stay on at the Justice Department.
Another Republican in touch with the administration described the public steps as part of a broader effort aimed at “laying the groundwork to fire” Mueller. . . . .  “Who attacks their entire Justice Department?” this person said. “It’s insane.”
[I]f Trump pardoned himself in the face of the ongoing Mueller investigation, it would set off a legal and political firestorm, first around the question of whether a president can use the constitutional pardon power in that way.
The power to pardon is granted to the president in Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, which gives the commander in chief the power to “grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” That means pardon authority extends to federal criminal prosecution but not to state level or impeachment inquiries.
No president has sought to pardon himself, so no courts have reviewed it. Although Kalt says the weight of the law argues against a president pardoning himself, he says the question is open and predicts such an action would move through the courts all the way to the Supreme Court.
I have always maintained that if Trump had nothing to hide, he would not have refused to release his tax returns or continually lied and attempted to undermine investigations.    Only someone guilty of crimes behaves in such a manner. Trump and his entire regime, including Mike Pence, need to be forced to resign and, if appropriate, criminally prosecuted.  


J.Martindale said...

Since the Constitution is silent on the issue of a President pardoning himself, the SCOTUS would most certainly question why the Founding Fathers would have included the process of Impeachment in the Constitution if impeachment could be made moot by the wave of the President's hand. They have used this logic many times in the past, and I cannot believe SCOTUS could arrive at any other conclusion.

Stephen said...

Banana republic caudillos go into exile in places without extradition treaties with the countries they misruled. I doubt he'd go to Afghanistan, Nigeria, Somalia,or Syria, but maybe Monaco or Andora or Cape Verde. He has a big hotel in Kazakhstan, right?