News that Trump could pardon his family and himself, putting himself in pretty well the pole position to do anything, has prompted some spirited debate across party lines, not to say dinner tables.
AbovetheLaw’s Elie Mystal has been prompted to consider what would happen if Donald Trump pardons himself on the theory that he will always do the worst possible thing, saying
… it’s actually more likely that Trump will pardon himself as opposed to his aides. Pardoning his aides would rob them of their Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination and, well, that’s bad for Trump. Pardoning himself, to the extent that he can, would mean that Trump would consider himself untouchable, and that’s really the only thing he cares about.
And then considers the “exhaustive” possibilities of what happens next, beginning with what will occur if charges are not filed and nothing happens (“I can pardon the dog for peeing on the rug, but if I wanted to make it okay for the dog to pee on the rug in the future, I need to change the laws regarding rugs in my house, not give the dog blanket authority to pee where ever she wants.
through to . . charges are filed and courts rule on the pardoning power (“Could the Supreme Court rule that Trump has the power to pardon himself, with Trump’s handpicked, personal Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch, casting the deciding vote in the president’s favor?”)
And what about Impeachment?
It’s low down on the option oist due to the attitude and weakness of the Republican Party.
I assume Trump has a Newton’s Cradle made out of the actual testicles of Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, and Steve Scalise. I don’t think there’s any chance this Congress impeaches Trump, no matter what he does. Caligula was having sex with the wives of Roman senators, and they did nothing, and modern Republicans are far weaker than early imperial Roman senators.
And there’s even the military takeover option.
If Congress impeaches Trump, after Trump unsuccessfully pardons himself, his next play is TANKS.
I don’t know if the military would go along with this play. But the fact is that if we’re really dealing with a president who pardons himself, the opinion of Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, suddenly matters. It matters a great deal. The opinion of the generals on who should legally be president probably hasn’t mattered this much since Ulysses S. Grant decided it was okay for Andrew Johnson to succeed Abraham Lincoln.
The net results of the list is that any Trump self pardon would simply mean nothing! As Mystal says, if Americans can’t even fight American Airlines how can they fight a Trump pardon?