Donald Trump is preparing to leave the office. He does not admit defeat in the election, but his supporters, including attorney General William Barr, did not find evidence of mass fraud during the vote. Observers expect that before leaving, the President, who has threatened with impeachment and now-criminal prosecution a year ago, will pardon several close associates. And above all-himself.
Flynn is free
“From the presidential chair, Trump will go to prison,” “Ivanka will sit down before Trump,” “Why Trump is afraid to leave the White House”— such headlines in recent weeks are full of the American press. The country is discussing why a politician, his family, or assistants can be imprisoned.
Journalists bring news every day from “sources close to the administration”: Trump plans to protect those who face prosecution after his resignation.
Following the ritual Turkey pardon before Thanksgiving, the President granted Amnesty to former national security adviser Michael Flynn. He was at the epicenter of the scandal about the Trump team’s alleged collusion with the Kremlin before the 2016 election. At the end of the presidential term, Barack Obama was going to finish what he had started by imposing sanctions on Russia. Flynn then allegedly contacted the Ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak, and asked the Russian leadership not to react too sharply – they say the new leader’s conversation will be different.
The adviser at first admitted guilt and then refused to testify-said that he gave them under pressure. The Justice Department asked to dismiss the Flynn case in May but without a result. Now the judges must satisfy the Department’s wishes.
Congressmen criticized the President’s decision, and journalists began to speculate about who is next. Presidential forgiveness, however, does not yet imply immunity. However, the so-called preventive pardon can save you from upcoming charges under certain articles.
The news from the Federal court of the District of Columbia came in handy. The Justice Department investigates data about a fraudulent scheme – the White House allegedly received money from individuals who counted on an Amnesty from the President.
Names are not given in the report; the text is smeared in some places. It is known that the investigation of the “secret lobbying scheme” has been going on since August, but officials have not yet appeared in it. Speculation about forgiveness in exchange for money, Trump called fake.
Sources close to the administration say that some of trump’s inner circle would like to defend themselves against charges that have not yet been filed—for example, the President’s personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani.
The New York Federal Prosecutor’s office has already taken up the lawyer’s business, finances, and ties to Ukrainian authorities who provided scandalous details about the Biden family’s Affairs in Ukraine. The investigation was suspended due to the pandemic. However, if it starts again and earnest, a preventive pardon for Giuliani will come in handy. He denies that he asked the President for such a service.
With advisers, Trump allegedly discussed the possibility of early Amnesty for three older children-Donald, Eric and Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner.
The long search for misdeeds
The threat of prosecution also hangs over the outgoing President himself. Throughout his term, Trump was credited with all sorts of sins — extortion, tax evasion, and political blackmail (attempts to exchange military aid to Ukraine for reopening the case against Joe Biden’s son).
The Manhattan district attorney’s office is still investigating the Trump Organization’s financial activities. The New York Attorney General’s office is interested in how honestly trump and his family assess their assets. In the States of Maryland and the District of Columbia, proceedings related to the violation of the Constitution’s article on remuneration from foreign persons have not been closed — money from foreign governments was allegedly spent at Trump’s hotel in Washington, and he received benefits.
So far, two women have accused the President of rape and harassment. In September, his niece Mary Trump, author of “Too much and always not enough,” filed a lawsuit claiming that he fraudulently deprived her of part of her grandfather’s inheritance.
However, according to the Director of the Franklin Roosevelt Foundation for the study of the United States, reports of a possible trial of Trump after January 20 are more like speculation. “Various charges were brought against him, all sorts of proceedings were initiated,” he says. – Mainly for the sake of impeachment, because the current President can not be tried, and you can only resign if you have proven an offense — and only then file a lawsuit.”
The same thing happened with Bill Clinton: they also tried to remove him from the head of state. They looked for clues in the distant past when he and his wife Hillary were engaged in real estate.
“So it is with Trump: no evidence of collusion was found, they switched to Ukraine. But it’s one thing to overthrow a President and another to leave the office. There’s no point in rehashing the past. Also, courts and investigations cost a lot of money. This is more of a sensational pursuit to spit after the outgoing Trump,” he believes.
Trump spoke about a possible “self-Amnesty” back in 2018, at the height of the scandal over “Russian interference.” “As several learned lawyers have stated, I have the absolute right to pardon myself. But why, if I didn’t do anything?” he reasoned.
Under the Constitution, the President can indeed forgive Federal crimes to anyone, and the approval of other members of the government is not required. The criminal must apply to the Prosecutor’s office for a pardon from the Ministry of justice. Still, the President is not obliged to rely on the decision of the Ministry of Justice.
Trump, during the presidency, has repeatedly resorted to this opportunity-journalists counted more than 40 pardoned. Almost everyone had personal or political connections with him.
However, according to the Pew Research Center, Trump used his right much less often than his predecessors. Barack Obama pardoned 212 people and commuted the measure of restraint to 1715 criminals. But he served two terms in the White house. But George H. W. Bush, also a one-term President, pardoned 74 offenders and commuted three sentences. Since the end of the XIX century, the rest of the leaders in total — more than 200 releases and mitigation.
But the President’s pardon of himself — such a precedent has not yet been. Theoretically, this is possible, but there is an obstacle-the decree of Richard Nixon, which he issued shortly before leaving the head of state due to the Watergate scandal. In 1974, he stated that such an action violates a fundamental legal principle that States: no one can be their own judge.
Speculation about Trump’s future is not limited to issues of clemency. If desired, he can try to return to the White House in 2024. Probably, his daughter Ivanka will also stay in big politics. In this case, the promotion of criminal cases against them for rivals is justified. Although in the history of the United States, no President has ever been tried after leaving office. But in many ways, Trump is the first and unique.