President Donald Trump has reportedly drawn up a list of about 20 aides, associates, and family members he’s considering giving presidential pardons, but he remains hesitant to issue them, according to Politico:
“Trump’s strategy, like much of his presidency, is nontraditional. He is eschewing the typical protocol of processing cases through the Justice Department. And he may argue that such preemptive pardons for his friends and family members are necessary to spare them from paying millions in legal fees to fight what he describes as witch hunts. Those up for clemency include everyone from Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to several members of his family — all people who haven’t been charged with a crime. Weighing on Trump’s mind is whether these pardons would look like an admission of guilt.”
The legal danger of such a move could also be weighing on Trump. If he pardons aides and family members, they would then lose their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and could be forced to testify against the president in any future federal litigation brought by a new attorney general in the Biden administration.
Top members of Trump’s own party also seem to be nervous about a pardon spree as the president is leaving office:
“Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a Trump ally and a former state attorney general, acknowledged that such a move by the president would be unprecedented.
“’I’m not sure what form it would take. It’s kind of an interesting legal question,’ he said. ‘I’m not aware of analog.'”
And no matter how many pardons Trump issues, none of them will protect those who receive them from being charged with crimes in states such as New York where Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and Attorney General Tish James are both investigating the president, his family, and the Trump Organization for crimes ranging from insurance and tax fraud to money laundering. Just this week, Ivanka Trump was forced to give a deposition in a case that originated in the District of Columbia which alleges the 2016 Trump inaugural committee paid inflated fees to rent event space at the Trump International Hotel in the nation’s capital.
There are also reports that Trump may attempt something that has never before been done by a president: A self-pardon, which many legal experts say would be invalid:
“’There’s no doubt that this is not what clemency is intended for,’ said Mark Osler, a former federal prosecutor and clemency expert who serves as a law professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. ‘It’s bad for the institution of clemency and the good that it can do. But that’s a different question about whether or not it’s illegal.'”
Considering that Trump is currently lashing out and blaming everyone but himself for his loss in the 2020 election, it seems safe to bet that he will continue to act in unstable and unpredictable ways. But his actions may have consequences he hasn’t fully considered.
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