Trump Ponders More Pardons After Flynn

Rob CrillyNovember 27, 20207min
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President Trump may have shunned the convention of delivering a concession speech and kept largely out of the public eye since his election defeat, but he does plan to follow one tradition of a departing president.

Aides are drawing up proposals for a string of pardons before he leaves office. One, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, was crossed off the list Wednesday after he received a full pardon from Trump.

Most of the other names being floated are members of Trump’s inner circle or are former aides caught up in Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian efforts to sway the 2016 election.

But there are other intriguing options, including National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden and even a self-pardon for Trump himself.

Flynn, Trump’s first and shortest-lived national security adviser, had long been considered a certainty for a pardon.

He pleaded guilty to lying to the federal investigators about conversations with the former Russian ambassador to Washington during the presidential transition. Efforts by the Justice Department to dismiss the case were bogged down in court. Wednesday, Trump first added to speculation by retweeting comments suggesting Flynn’s case was being handled too slowly. And then later, he tweeted that he had pardoned him.

Here is who could be next:

Paul Manafort

In March 2019, Trump’s former campaign manager was sentenced to 47 months in prison for tax and bank fraud. Days later, he was sentenced to a further 43 months in a second trial. The convictions related to work he had done previously for the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine. He was already being probed when the Mueller inquiry into alleged Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election took over the investigation. Trump has previously said Manafort’s sentence was “very unfair.”

Charles Kushner

Jared Kushner’s father spent 14 months in prison after pleading guilty to 18 counts of illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion, and witness tampering in 2005. The prosecution was brought by then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie. As a result of the conviction, Charles Kushner was disbarred and banned from practicing law in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

George Papadopoulos

Papadopoulos occupied a minor role as a foreign policy adviser during Trump’s 2016 campaign, when heavy hitters were signed up with other contenders for the Republican nomination. Several times, he met a mysterious academic who told him Russian contacts had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, meetings Papadopoulos later said amounted to entrapment. He served 12 days in prison after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about contact with Russian operatives, and his lawyers have reportedly asked Trump for a pardon.

Edward Snowden

One of the most explosive options, opposed even by ultra loyalist Attorney General William Barr, would be to pardon the fugitive whistleblower. He fled to Russia after leaking secret files in 2013 that exposed surveillance operations carried out by the U.S. National Security Agency, where he worked as a contractor.

“I’m going to take a very good look at it,” Trump said of his case in the summer, after asking aides whether a pardon was justified.

Rudy Giuliani

Federal prosecutors reportedly launched an investigation into Rudy Giuliani last year, examining whether the former New York City mayor and lawyer to Trump violated foreign lobbying laws while digging for dirt on Joe Biden during visits to Ukraine. Giuliani has not been convicted, nor does he face any charges. But as President Gerald Ford demonstrated in pardoning his predecessor, Richard Nixon, in September 1974, those are not necessary for a presidential pardon.

Donald Trump

“As has been stated by numerous legal scholars,” tweeted Trump in 2018, “I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?”

Constitutional scholars are not unanimous, however. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution states the “president shall … have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States,” which some take to mean that Trump has unrestricted powers.

Others argue that the word “grant” implies that carrying out the law requires two parties. A 1974 Justice Department memo, written in the run-up to Nixon’s resignation, concluded a president could not self-pardon. “Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, it would seem that the question should be answered in the negative,” it said.

Berkeley law professor and former legal adviser to the George W. Bush administration John Yoo said the framers were aware of the issue of presidential self-pardons but chose not to include clauses or restrictions to prevent it. Instead, they believed that the political repercussions would be enough to deter the practice.

“That it would be so infamous that a president would pardon himself for a crime — that would be the real restraint,” he said.

Whether that is enough to put off Trump is another matter

Author : Rob Crilly

Source : Washington Examiner : Trump ponders more pardons after Flynn