Josh Marshall summarizes it best:
Trump is in many ways his own worst accuser. Anyone who’s been in business for decades would not welcome a searching legal scrutiny of years of business. Most people, certainly in Trump’s line of work, aren’t totally clean. And a determined prosecutor can often find technical infractions that in the normal course of things would never be an issue. So no one would like this. But Trump is willing to run the most unimaginable political and even criminal risks to block even the beginnings of a serious probe into his business history and the 2016 election. We are far, far past the point where there is any credible reason to doubt that President Trump is hiding major and broad-ranging wrongdoing. No mix of ego, inexperience, embarrassment or anything else can explain his behavior. It just can’t. He’s hiding bad acts. And the country is likely heading toward a major constitutional and political crisis because Trump is signaling that he will not allow the normal course of the law to apply to him – a challenge which puts the entire edifice of democratic government under threat.
Which reminds me of that old Doonesbury cartoon.
I had originally remembered this one as being about Nixon, which is apparently a very common error (search down for Doonesbury), in part because Trudeau reworked this strip not just once, but twice. Maybe it’s time for him to do it again.
It’s like a coup d’etat. Trump and his family are accused of colluding with a foreign government to win the election and to probably do all kinds of other things. If he pardons himself and his family and friends for their nefarious dealings with Russian and other foreign agents – how is it not a group – except that I guess it’s allowed under the US constitution. Just got back from Brazil and was talking with people about how they would feel about all kinds of pardons within their current political situation. If Trump issues lots of pardons – he may set a precedent not only here but around the world. The scary thing is if his supporters continue to support him and continue to call this system a “democracy”. After Trump, what is to stop politicians from telling their family and friends to steal billions – or why not more – because whoever has the presidency has all the power, and friends/family will be pardoned. As long as Trump is against abortion and has the power of prayer of the Christian right and lets Christian bakers boycott gay weddings but wants to criminalize American citizens right to boycott settlement products from the West Bank – Trumps followers surely don’t care about a couple pardons… Interesting times.
Didn’t Nixon get pardoned for the misdeeds of Watergate – a scandal that started with election tampering. American democracy survived. Trump is terrible. But maybe, just maybe, the sky isn’t falling.
Yes Nixon was pardoned (1) by someone else (2) after he resigned.
Not at all the same as Trump doing it to himself to stay in office.
To stay in office? Has there been any serious discussion in Congress of an impeachment? If not, it seems that this argument is premature.
And on that note, would pardoning have any impact on impeachment and removal? My off the cuff thought is that no, it wouldn’t. Congress could impeach and remove him whether he pardoned himself or not.
The Constitution specifies that pardons have no effect on impeachments.
If Trump were to give blanket pardons to his staff, or even some of them, the chatter would turn serious quickly. The pardons rightly would be seen as attempted obstruction of justice, although the legal case in an impeachment would be novel and thus controversial.
I don’t think it’s too soon to think about these things, both because they are intrinsically interesting, and because the chance they could matter is real — not yet ‘huge’ but real.
Note that the #1 reason Trump probably won’t pardon people unless really desperate is that a person who accepts a pardon loses the right to refuse to testify under the 5th since there is no longer any legal jeopardy to be afraid of. Failure to testify to a grand jury is contempt, and punishable. Lying to judges or juries is perjury and as a new offense is also punishable.