Donald Trump is still super-focused on being the first president to pardon himself

President Trump delivers remarks to supporters in DC to support Trump's claims of voter fraud

Ever since Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the election in November, we’ve heard a steady stream of stories about Donald Trump and pardons. He’s already started pardoning all of his co-conspirators and fellow traitors, and for weeks now, we’ve heard that he wants to pardon himself. Little surprise there, because the man has been committing felonies since his 2016 campaign. Before that, he was obviously committing tons of tax fraud and financial crimes too. But within the last week, he’s been recorded committing crimes on a call to Georgia state officials AND he’s also incited a terrorist attack on the Capitol. So, yeah, he’s right to be concerned about prosecution. Now the “Trump is gonna pardon himself” story is back like a herpes flare-up.

President Trump has suggested to aides he wants to pardon himself in the final days of his presidency, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions, a move that would mark one of the most extraordinary and untested uses of presidential power in American history.

In several conversations since Election Day, Mr. Trump has told advisers that he is considering giving himself a pardon and, in other instances, asked whether he should and what the effect would be on him legally and politically, according to the two people. It was not clear whether he had broached the topic since he incited his supporters on Wednesday to march on the Capitol, where some stormed the building in a mob attack.

Mr. Trump has shown signs that his level of interest in pardoning himself goes beyond idle musings. He has long maintained he has the power to pardon himself, and his polling of aides’ views is typically a sign that he is preparing to follow through on his aims. He has also become increasingly convinced that his perceived enemies will use the levers of law enforcement to target him after he leaves office.

Mr. Trump has considered a range of pre-emptive pardons for family, including his three oldest children — Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump — for Ms. Trump’s husband, the senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, and for close associates like the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. The president has expressed concerns to advisers that a Biden Justice Department might investigate all of them.

Mr. Trump, who has told advisers how much he likes having the power to issue clemency, has for weeks solicited aides and allies for suggestions on whom to pardon. He has also offered pre-emptive pardons to advisers and administration officials. Many were taken aback because they did not believe they were in legal jeopardy and thought that accepting his offer would be seen as an admission of guilt, according to the two people. Presidential pardons apply only to federal law and provide no protection against state crimes. They would not apply to charges that could be brought by prosecutors in Manhattan investigating the Trump Organization’s finances.

[From The NY Times]

The Times also notes that Numnuts had a renewed interest in the self-pardon talk after his call to Georgia state officials came out, and then he became increasingly concerned that he could be charged for Wednesday’s terrorist attack. Still, he wasn’t concerned enough about his criminal acts to actually condemn the terrorists he incited. He also didn’t hide his delight while watching the terrorism play out over the course of the afternoon and evening at the Capitol. Obviously, no president has ever pardoned himself, and so much of what comes after that would be a complete legal unknown. It feels like an issue that could conceivably make its way to the Supreme Court.

Trump returns White House Cutting Short His Vacation

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid.

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33 Responses to “Donald Trump is still super-focused on being the first president to pardon himself”

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  1. K says:

    Maybe I’m missing something, but he can only pardon while he’s president. If he hasn’t been convicted of anything before his term expires, there’s nothing to pardon. If he’s convicted after, he no longer has pardon power. So what the crap is he talking about?

    • Sparky says:

      While pardons are typically given to people who have been prosecuted, they can cover conduct that has not resulted in legal proceedings. A pardon cannot apply to conduct that has not yet occurred.

      The U.S. Supreme Court clarified this in a 1866 case, saying the pardon power “extends to every offense known to the law, and may be exercised at any time after its commission, either before legal proceedings are taken or during their pendency, or after conviction and judgment.”

    • Tashiro says:

      He’s desperate and talking out the side of his mouth.

    • Dutch says:

      The self-pardon is most likely not possible. But there is precedent for being pardoned despite not even being charged. Ford pardoned Nixon for any crimes he may have committed while president despite Nixon never being charged with a crime nor even impeachment charges filed. Ford said he did it because the country needed to heal after the turmoil of Watergate and prosecuting a former president would not be healing.

  2. jwoolman says:

    Trump gets excited by violence. That includes acts of nature like tornados and hurricanes. Just watch old videos of him at disaster sites. Listen to the questions he asks and the starry eyed look.

    One time was when the focus was supposed to be a little boy who had lost his parents in a tornado, I think, it was really awkward. Trump was obviously just interested in details about the scale of the destruction and was clearly excited about it.

    So it’s not surprising that he was pumped up viewing the rioting and invasion of the Capitol.

    • Persephone says:

      Well that’s disturbing.

    • Dutch says:

      One man’s destruction is a sociopath’s real estate bargain.

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      Let’s not forget the domestic violence allegations made against him by Ivanna. He gets off on violence and destruction.

    • derps says:

      Yes, I have watched him at times like you mention looking for solidarity with Trump supporters I know. It was a fail every time. He is really weird, forcing people to go over details of something traumatic that just happened to them. And then he wants them to do it again. Like, he can not get enough of them saying how terrified they were when their house collapsed or whatever and then he responds with how amazing the power of the tornado was or whatever. I don’t think it rises to the level of protecting him from any legal trouble, but he is mentally sick. He still knows what is wrong legally, so he should be prosecuted for his crimes.

  3. vertes says:

    At the same time, he’s accelerating executions of prisoners on death row. Psychopath?

  4. Bibi says:

    well he might get removed before he gets a chance to pardon himself. im crossing my fingers.

    • CoKatie says:

      That’s what I’m hoping for Bibi. Personally, I would just love to see the back of him, but to avoid ANY potential of him or his kin escaping retribution for their multiple crimes (some of which probably still have to come to light), and more importantly, to ensure that he can never hold political office again, the impeachment process must now be started. I know it will be divisive. But the end justifies the means. IMPEACH.

  5. Teresa says:

    It’s not worth thinking of anymore words for him. If he is not brought to justice I’ll be beyond having any hope left for this country. Also is that fake Melania in the picture?

  6. MyOpinion says:

    This is tricky in that this has never been done before, so I don’t think he has a solid standing right now. Plus, he would have to pardon himself for a number of illegal acts, there is no umbrella pardon. He has not been convicted yet, so he seems to believe what Rudy is telling him!

  7. Sam the Pink says:

    It almost certainly would wind up at the supreme court, no question. Pardon powers have largely never been examined by the courts. Even Ford’s pardon of Nixon is not settled law – because nobody ever challenged it!

    And remember, even if the courts accepted that he could pardon himself, the power only extends to federal crimes. If a particular state ever wanted to pursue him for state offenses, he has no power there – state pardons are a matter for the governor.

  8. JT says:

    I may be rusty on how our government works, but isn’t a president being able to pardon himself for crimes be the opposite of what the constitution allows? Isn’t the reason why it is a complete legal unknown is because it cannot be done? What’s the point of having a constitution that can conceivably hold the president to account if he can commit crimes and then pardon himself? That fact that we are having this discussion in America should be a wake up call. It’s time we put some laws in place to prevent this instead of relying on “honorable men” to do the right thing like we have before. Starting with tax returns, make it the law the presidential hopefuls have to release them or you cannot run. I think a lot of this started with trump never being held to account about his taxes and he just continued that behavior.

  9. Va Va Kaboom says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s eventually a deal with the Biden administration that charges won’t be brought against him. Ford did it for Nixon, so there’s precedent. Also, Biden is far too old-school “civility in the face of all partisan bullshit” to push the matter.

    • Miranda says:

      After the terrorist attack on Wednesday, I think letting Trump off would be political suicide for Biden, and probably destroy Kamala’s career altogether. Nixon was a shady bastard, but he didn’t gather a deplorable bunch of armed, delusional racists together and incite a riot that left at least 5 people (or is it up to 6?) dead. Giving him a pass would be a betrayal of every Democratic voter, and the Democrats in Congress would tear him limb from limb.

    • Alidorival says:

      Imo Biden seems to have had enough, judging from his passionate address during the riots. “enough is enough is enough!” I’ m praying he publicly gets on board the impeachment call.

    • Va Va Kaboom says:

      I hope you guys are right, but I worry because Biden is locked into the same naive bipartisan statesmanship fantasy that hamstringed Obama for so many years. Already Republicans are pulling back from their condemnation of Trump and the use of the 25th Amendment seems dead in the water. All that to say, if Republicans push back hard enough or offer some kind of compromise on some future endeavor… I can honestly see Biden going with it.

      Side note: I have wondered if some of his Cabinet members’ resignations were attempts to avoid participating in/carrying it out the 25th Amendment.

      • AMA1977 says:

        Oh, I absolutely think they were, because none of these people have a shred of decency or courage between them. They are rats deserting a sinking ship with no thought for anyone but themselves.

  10. Megan2 says:

    I feel like, we all like to say we live in a democracy (I’m Canadian; living in Alberta where our premier is basically another Trump just from an earlier timeline).
    But… if it truly is a democracy, why don’t the people have valid recourse to remove their leaders when there has been an irrevocable loss of trust? When leaders fail to act in the public interest? When we the people are suffering, why is there no legal recourse?
    Trump tried to organize a coup (I say tried because him and his followers are a bunch of stupid failures who of course couldn’t manage it even with the complicity of the police). How is he even able to sit as president for another hour, let alone another 13 days?
    And here… Kenney has failed at every level during this pandemic to lead. Huge swathes of his party went on tropical vacations over Christmas, while exhorting the rest of us to stay home and save lives. He hasn’t been able to provide contact tracing. He has been actively working to gut our healthcare system DURING A PANDEMIC.
    How is there no way for the people to demand better? Why does Congress even have to wait for Pence to answer his phone… when the president is literally a traitor? How is there no process for people to call for a new election… obviously there would need to be cause but there should be some tipping point… say if x% of the population wants an election… that we can evict these a$$holes. But there isn’t, and I don’t know how we can even reasonably declare ourselves to be democratic countries when we allow these people the power to keep us trapped in systems that do not work and do not serve the majority of us.
    I know this comment is all over the place. I’m not ok right now. I’m so angry that I keep crying… like those uncontrollable anger tears.
    I don’t understand why we don’t all deserve better than this.

    • Wamama says:

      Megan2, I’m right there with you. I am in my “so angry I can’t do anything else” feelings and that coupled with feeling so helpless can’t be good for my blood pressure.

    • Keroppi says:

      I totally feel this. I’m in Ontario and I’m sure a lot of people (including myself) would love to evict Ford and his cronies.

  11. Leah says:

    He can’t pardon himself. He can resign and get Pence to pardon him ala’ Nixon/Ford but he’s still complicit in state crimes.

    Pardon means= guilty and he cannot invoke the 5th. So he’s screwed either way, yay.

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      No way is Pence going to pardon him, not after he tried to have him murdered.

      • AMA1977 says:

        Pence won’t even find his huevos enough to participate in the 25th. I doubt he has enough backbone to resist pardoning this cretin if he could somehow be coerced to resign. Like every other wretched, intolerable, disgusting, illegal thing he’s done before (so, like, his whole life) DT has convinced himself that this is because of “other people” and he will accept no responsibility. He’s not resigning.

  12. Emily says:

    Meanwhile where is Melania in all of this? Was she in the White House while the mob ran around the Capitol? Staying with her family who live in the DC area? Mar a Lago? I have to wonder if she files for divorce the second his presidency is over. I’m not sure how she could stay married to him after this. I get the whole point is money, she never cared about him being President and she never wanted to be the First Lady. But being married to a domestic terrorist–that doesn’t have a lot of cachet.

    • JT says:

      Anywhere but with trump. I think she won’t divorce him until she can figure out the money situation. She’ll want to secure something for herself and Baron. If she sees that trump will be broke and possibly in jail, she will bolt. Remember there was a story a few weeks ago from a Melania source talking about a potential book deal. I imagine that will be in her back pocket. If she can sell herself as a victim of trump, which people think she is despite her own racist behavior, she will be able to pivot and make some money for herself. She just has to be able to deliver enough good tea to market it. She’ll probably have receipts too; it seems that everybody in the trump orbit is saving and recording evidence.

    • Alidorival says:

      From some media sources, Melania was reportedly having a photo shoot at the white house while the riot was going on. Utterly despicable.

  13. Julia K says:

    Thought she renegotiated the prenup in 2016-2017. She may want to take her payout sooner rather than later to avoid his going broke with defense fees.

  14. Tiffany says:

    AG James is sitting up in Albany right now laughing as she shuffles those indictment like a deck of cards.

    And Fani Wilson is getting it together too.

  15. Cate says:

    Let him pardon all his cronies and family. Then they can’t plead the Fifth when asked to testify against him.