Politics Foreign Affairs Culture

Trump’s Self-Pardon? Seriously?

Congressional Republicans must draw a bright, red line -- now

Scoop from The Washington Post tonight:

Some of President Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort.

Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.

Trump’s legal team declined to comment on the issue. But one adviser said the president has simply expressed a curiosity in understanding the reach of his pardoning authority, as well as the limits of Mueller’s investigation.

“This is not in the context of, ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself,’ ” a close adviser said.

Which says to me, this is in the context of ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself.’

Seriously, though, if he pulls anything like this, he will have to be impeached. We cannot endure a president so contemptuous of the law, and of normal legal procedures. Congressional Republicans had better make this very clear, right now.

More from the Post story:

Some Republicans in frequent touch with the White House said they viewed the president’s decision to publicly air his disappointment with Sessions as a warning sign that the attorney general’s days were numbered. Several senior aides were described as “stunned” when Sessions announced Thursday morning he would stay on at the Justice Department.

Another Republican in touch with the administration described the public steps as part of a broader effort aimed at “laying the groundwork to fire” Mueller.

“Who attacks their entire Justice Department?” this person said. “It’s insane.”

Indeed it is. I’m shocked that Sessions did not resign. Is he that desperate to hold on to power? Or does he see himself as an Attorney General who will soon be called upon by duty and honor to stand up to an out-of-control president, and force that president to fire him?

Here’s the thing that worries me: that if President Trump decided to pardon his own family members, and even himself (what law would stop him?), a substantial minority of Americans would support him. If so, what that would reveal about how respect for the rule of law and basic republican order in the United States had decayed would be staggering.

Congressional Republicans had better draw a bright red line, right now, and publicly. If Trump continues down this path, then the fundamental integrity of our democratic order will be at stake.





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