NY Times Breaks Thursday Trump Self-Pardon Story

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According to The New York Times, outgoing President Donald Trump has discussed the possibility of issuing a pardon for himself before leaving office, although no president in American history has ever pardoned themselves, and such a move would be on legally tenuous ground, at best. The Times says that the conversations in question took place before last weekend, when Trump spent about an hour on the phone with top Georgia official Brad Raffensperger (R), trying to pressure him into finding some way to overturn the certified election outcome in the state, where Biden won. More recently, Trump also incited his sycophants to march on the Capitol, where they staged a terroristic insurrection, violently storming the building while Congress was gathered inside.

The Times reported that “Trump has suggested to aides he wants to pardon himself in the final days of his presidency, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions, a move that would mark one of the most extraordinary and untested uses of presidential power in American history.” More specifically, Trump “has told advisers that he is considering giving himself a pardon and, in other instances, asked whether he should and what the effect would be on him legally and politically,” according to the sources for the paper. Reportedly, Trump has also considered issuing preemptive pardons for his three oldest children — Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka — along with Rudy Giuliani, who has helped lead Trump’s delusional fight against the election outcome.

Trump “has expressed concerns to advisers that a Biden Justice Department might investigate” himself and his family members, the Times says. His potential federal crimes range from obstruction of justice to offenses connected with his abuse of power in situations like the Wednesday D.C. riots and his attempt to overturn the election outcome. Presidential pardons only apply to federal offenses, so no effort along these lines could protect Trump from potential charges at the state level. In New York, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance has been leading a criminal investigation of the Trump Organization over financial corruption issues. Even if Trump were to issue a pardon for himself, a court could — theoretically — still decide to set it aside if the Biden administration’s Justice Department decided to bring a case against Trump anyway.

After the Wednesday rioting in D.C. that Trump incited, top leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have called for the invocation of the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. That effort would require a formal certification from the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet members that the president is unfit to remain in power.