U.S. media revealed on December 1 that US President Trump and his advisers recently discussed whether to pardon his three oldest children and female Kushner in advance. His personal lawyer Giuliani is also seeking a presidential pardon. Last week, the two of them also I talked about this matter. Also on the 1st, a federal court document released revealed that the Justice Department was investigating a potential criminal plan to bribe the White House in exchange for a presidential pardon.” Speculation about the White House pardon is rampant, which highlights the weight of the investigation and criminal proceedings of people in the presidential circle in the Trump administration. The American media commented like this. As Trump’s term draws to an end, there is more and more heated discussion in American public about how he will exercise his presidential pardon power. Among the various reports, one question is the most concerned – whether he will pardon himself.
Trump responds to the “amnesty investigation”
The New York Times said that Trump recently told people around him that he was worried that Biden’s judicial officials would act on his sons Donald Jr. and Eric, as well as his daughter Ivanka and female Kushner as “retaliation” against him, so he wanted to consider whether to grant an early amnesty to his family.
According to the American media, Mueller, the special prosecutor who was in charge of the “Russia” investigation, has launched an investigation into Donald Jr.’s access to information harmful to Hillary after contacting Russians during the 2016 election, but Donald Jr. has never been questioned by the Special Prosecutor’s Office and has not been charged. . In Kushner’s case, because he did not provide important contact information with foreigners several times in the background investigation, the White House legal counsel and chief of staff had suggested that Kushner could not obtain the top secret permission, but Trump still approved it. As for Eric and Ivanka, it is not clear what problems they have will worry about Trump.
The New York Times said that Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, is also seeking pardon, and it is not clear what kind of criminal charges he may face. But just this summer, Giuliani was still under investigation by federal prosecutors, mainly on his business activities in Ukraine and his role in recalling the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.” The New York Times is lying again. On the 1st, Giuliani denied discussing the pardon with Trump.
In addition, according to a court document released by the federal court on the 1st, the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating a potential criminal plan to send funds to the White House or relevant political committees in exchange for presidential pardons. CNN said that part of the 20-page document was blackened, and the public version provided little details of the criminal plan, nor did it mention the people involved.
The Guardian said that although the relevant content was revealed by official court documents, Trump briefly responded on Twitter on the 1st with his favorite criticism of the media: “The pardon investigation is fake news!” On the evening of the 1st, a U.S. Department of Justice official told Reuters that no U.S. government official was the “object and target” of the investigation. The court document shows that the DOJ does not want to make the investigation public, because the “individuals and acts” detailed in it have not yet been prosecuted.
Early pardon is “rare”
According to Reuters, the power of pardon stems from the U.S. Constitution and is one of the most widely available powers available to the president. The American founders see it as a way to show tolerance and benefit to the public, although pardons are usually for those indicted. The ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court interprets presidential pardon as pardon, conditional pardon, commutation of sentence, conditional commutation of sentence, amnesty, probation, exemption from fines and other items. At the legal level, the president does not need to explain the amnesty. However, impeachment is outside the scope of the presidential amnesty, and this power only applies to federal crimes, excluding state and local charges.
Some analyses say that amnesty before any charge or conviction is “rare”, but not without precedent, the most famous example being Ford pardoned all acts during Nixon’s presidency.
“The power of pardon has been used by many presidents in a politically self-interested way, whether it is Bush Sr. or Clinton.” Jack Goldsmith, a professor at Harvard Law School, gave an example. Bush Sr. once pardoned six co-authors for what they did in the Iran Gate scandal, including former Defense Secretary Weinberg. Clinton pardoned his brother Roger, who was convicted of drug distribution.
The Washington Post listed the candidates for Trump’s possible pardon on the 1st, including in addition to the above mentioned earlier, Manafort, the former head of his campaign (who was sentenced to seven years in prison for conspiracy to oppose the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice) and former foreign policy adviser Papadopoulos (for false testimony in the “Russia” investigation. 14 days in prison, serving a sentence, but with pardons can erase criminal records), and Bannon, a former White House adviser, who was indicted in August this year for allegedly fraudulently soliciting donations from the southern border wall of the United States. The newspaper said that although the two have not been in good terms since Trump fired Bannon in 2017, Bannon is currently a “frank supporter” of Trump. According to CNN, there are a total of nine people in the Trump circle who have been prosecuted or convicted.
Last week, Trump’s pardon of Flynn, a former president’s national security assistant, caused a stir in the United States. Previously, he had also commuted his sentence for his close friend Roger Stone. The Washington Post said that Trump has used this power to help many close allies and funders. As his term draws to an end, he may use the pardon again. The only question is how much risk he may take and for whom.
Whether to investigate the former president is a “political issue”
In the discussion about “who Trump pardoned”, one topic was the media’s biggest concern – whether he would pardon himself. According to the Capitol Hill newspaper on the 1st, Biden has said that he is unwilling to push for a lawsuit against the former president, but will leave the decision to Justice Department officials. Some liberals put pressure on the incoming government to liquidate a ” lawless” government. The analysis suggests that this pressure increases the possibility of Trump’s self-parddon. CNN reported that Trump said in 2018 that he had the “absolute power” to pardon himself, but there was no need to do so because he “did nothing wrong”.
There is no conclusion about whether Trump has the right to pardon himself.” This is unprecedented. Democrats will protest, and this may eventually go to the Supreme Court.” Ian Pryor, former deputy director of public affairs at the U.S. Department of Justice, said. Langapa, a senior lecturer at Yale University, believes that the move is “dangerous”, and if Trump does so, it is tantamount to admitting that he has committed at least one crime.
“When someone asked me if the president could pardon himself, my answer was ‘He could try it.’” Carlt, a constitutional professor at Michigan State University, told Reuters on the 1st that the constitution did not give a clear answer to this. However, the experience of Nixon, the protagonist of Watergate, may serve as a reference. In a 1974 memorandum, a Ministry of Justice said that the president could not pardon himself, but he could choose to leave and accept the pardon of the vice president, that is, his successor. In the view of UC professor Greenberg, the president’s self-pardonment would violate the fundamental principles of American law, such as conflicts of interest.” If he commits a felony but forgives himself, it is equivalent to putting him above the law.”
Fox News host Sean Hannity, an ally of Trump, suggested that Trump pardon himself and his family on both shows on the 1st. He supported by a recent op-ed by Attorney Andrew Weissman, who called for the Attorney General appointed by Biden to “investigate Trump and prosecute him for possible federal crimes if necessary.” Biden and his advisers hope that this political persecution will continue forever, and they are full of anger and madness against the president. Hannity said. CNN said that some Trump allies believe that the Biden administration is hostile to Trump’s colleagues and that seeking early pardon is a “comprehensive” protection.
However, Republicans close to the White House interviewed by The Hill said there is not much discussion about pardon at present, and they are also skeptical about whether Biden will investigate political opponents, because it may lead to the division of the country. “This will not be regarded as a legal issue, but an open political issue”. Ryan, vice president of Common Cause, the financial regulator of the U.S. campaign, said that federal officials should feel responsible for conducting investigations. However, the political pressure to avoid the investigation is too great. “In our country, successive presidents have turned a blind eye to the actions of the previous government and never blamed.”