Thursday, December 7, 2017

How justice will prevail if Trump tries to pardon his way out of trouble

To paraphrase Sun Tzu, "know your enemy" when it comes to conservative President Trump's strategies to combat Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe and possible charges. And after hearing about son Donald Jr.'s bizarre assertion of attorney-client privilege in regards to his conversations with his father and refusing to answer some questions , we should examine the president's strongest defenses. Once we see then, we can also see a way to counter them. So, there is hope the blonde hair, orange skin tyrant can be brought to justice. Trump may try two defenses. One, he fires Mueller. Two, he pardons his son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner,  Donald Jr. and maybe himself. There could be others he may try to pardon.

First, Trump may try to fire Mueller. I don't think he would try this. He has already fired FBI James Comey for that "Russia thing." (CNN) It would become crystal clear that he would be doing so to obstruct justice. It's the Saturday Night Massacre all over again. Even with the Republicans in control, there is probably going to be enough of them in the House to join the Democrats to vote for impeachment. And it's quite possible that a new special counsel could be just as dedicated as Mueller is.

The second is for Trump to try to pardon his way out. Looking at his history, this seems most likely. Remember that Trump's businesses filed for bankruptcy four times. For Trump, the power to pardon under the Constitution is like filing for bankruptcy to extinguish his debts. He could save Jared Kushner and Donald Jr. from criminal jeopardy. And if you think Trump won't rescue them then you should learn how to spell nepotism. Heck, he might also try pardoning himself.

Yes, the power to pardon is powerful. But it's not the perfect get out of jail card that Trump might think it is. First, and most important, the power to pardon cannot be used to stop an impeachment. Yes, Congress can still remove Trump. And isn't that what we really want?   Second, even if Trump pardons Kushner and his son then they would be exposed to testifying at any hearing. There is no Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination if they no longer are in danger of being criminally prosecuted.

Trump's power to pardon does not stop state prosecutions.  Remember that Trump Jr.'s meeting to get dirt on Hillary Clinton occurred in New York  at  Trump Tower.   In this excellent    NBC News web article, former White House prosecutor Nick Akerman points out that possession of hacked emails is a crime in New York.    And here's something that's going to cause Trump to puke his Kentucky Fried chicken.  Former National Security Adviser Michael  Flynn not only agreed to help with Mueller but also pursuant to his plea agreement, he's got to help out on the state level.  Lawfare It's a brilliant move by Mueller. He's inoculated the Russia investigation from ending by Trump's pardon power. It should be noted that there is reporting that Mueller is already working with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. See Politico.

It might be "up to you New York." Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" below. By the way, Nancy Sinatra says late father, would never support Trump since he's a bigot. (Teen Vogue) Amen.

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