Donald Trump is scared. The Washington Post reports that not only is he seeking ways to pardon his cohorts in his collusion with Russia in last year’s massive attack on democracy as we know it, but he’s also looking into ways to pardon himself and completely scuttle the investigation in every way they possibly can.
The Post reports that Trump has asked about his power to pardon aides who have been caught conspiring with Russian agents, his family members like Don Jr., who met with a “Russian government lawyer” and a KGB spy as well as a Russian money launderer to obtain dirt on Hillary Clinton — even himself, which in and of itself is an admission of a crime.
“This is not in the context of, ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself,’” an advisor close to Trump says despite appearances that this is exactly what it seems.
On top of that, Team Trump is looking into ways to discredit and even fire special counsel Robert Mueller, building a case of alleged conflicts of interest.
This all comes directly following a warning from Trump that Mueller should not look too closely at his family’s finances, which Mueller is doing anyway.
“The fact is that the president is concerned about conflicts that exist within the special counsel’s office and any changes in the scope of the investigation,” Trump attorney Jay Sekulow says. “The scope is going to have to stay within his mandate. If there’s drifting, we’re going to object.”
“They’re talking about real estate transactions in Palm Beach several years ago,” Sekulow says specifically of a shady sale of Trump’s Palm Beach mansion to a Russian oligarch. “In our view, this is far outside the scope of a legitimate investigation.”
Unfortunately for Trump, Mueller’s authority is rather broad. Not only is he empowered to look into any links between the Russian government and his campaign — links his own son confirmed — but he also may investigate “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation” (including Trump’s finances) and any crimes committed in response to the investigation such as perjury and obstruction of justice.
Can Trump pardon himself? According to constitutional law expert Brian C. Kalt, “This is a fiercely debated but unresolved legal question.”
Since no president in the history of our country has attempted to do so, it has never been examined by the courts. “There is no predicting what would happen,” Kalt says.
In any case, as President Gerald Ford did with Nixon, President Mike Pence could pardon Trump if he steps down or is successfully impeached.
It’s unclear what is going to happen in the coming months, but it’s absolutely not going to be pretty.
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