Here we are with Trump doing what he always does on a Saturday morning tweeting, this time proclaiming he has the power to pardon. According to the Constitution that is a known fact. While I state the obvious, what Trump seems to be asserting is in his tiny mind, he believes he can even pardon himself. Since it was reported out by the Times just a few days ago, he was exploring the feasibility of forgiving his family, staff, and himself, it has resulted in a flurry of articles and calls placed to constitutional scholars.
As expected we now have competing opinions on the topic. Two articles in WaPo by respected legal scholars have taken opposite views. See here and here. Reading both these OpEd pieces, it is easy to see how folks can become confused. The Constitutional Framers give the power of the pardon to the president. However, it is doubtful they meant that this would be a get of jail free card for the president. Be that as it may, I beg you, dear reader, to ask yourself, why? Why would Trump have the desire to know this? Why would he assert he has the power to do so? We are aware – if he chooses – can pardon individuals convicted of crimes. But, why proclaim he can pardon himself? For the moment I request you suspend your thought on that for the moment, consider what is causing him to broach this question.
Robert Muller is putting together a crack team of lawyers with specialties fraud, criminal law, counter terrorism, and organized crime. One way of looking at this is Muller isn’t messing around, and he is stacking his team with the best of the best. While Trump is trying to cast dispersion on them by questioning their campaign donations to Democrats as if that is really a mitigating factor. Muller and his team are pressing forward, at a precise and steady pace to the anguish of Trump and his family. Let us not overlook the fact many on his team have hired their own lawyers in anticipation of the oncoming fallout from this investigation. An investigation that had Trump not fired Comey more than likely would have been avoided had he just stated he had nothing to hide and allowed things to take their ordinary course. But, this is Trump. The believer he is smarter than any lawyer.
Which brings us back to the question of Trump’s tweet, he has the power of the pardon and believes he can pardon himself. Does he feel he is guilty of a crime? Thus his desired to perform a preemptive pardon? Does Trump understand that instigating such an act, is essentially an admission of guilt not only for him but for all those who accept the pardon?
The very fact he brings this up, as a distraction perhaps, but I think not. It is clear he and his legal team are concerned with the team Muller has put together. They will be just as dogged as Muller, which means, they will find something, and what they find will not be at all good for Trump, his family and all those who have associated themselves with him. Which is sad.
It is sad because what Muller and his team finds out about Trump and what Trump has done will put a stain on the country. It is not that Muller is setting out to besmirch the US, for he is trying to determine if Trump obstructed justice. It is the fact that Trump with unmitigated egotism, his unquenchable desire to be an autocrat like his hero Putin, will shatter this fragile thing we call democracy. If you believe it is not possible for this to happen I encourage you to read or re-read any of your favorite dystopian books. Orwell’s 1984, Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, Suzanne Collins Hunger Games, or Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, or Marget Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Yes, they are fictional stories, yet there is a hint of realism to the level it does give one pause to ask the question, could it happen?
No! What I’d really like us to do would be to come out and tell the whole world: ‘Now you boys never mind about the moral side of this. We have power, and power is its own excuse!’ - Lewis, Sinclair. It Can't Happen Here
Words that were written eighty-two years ago, but, relevant today. Trump may or may not have read the book (my guess he had it read to him as a bedtime story) it sums up his view of his role. He clearly sees “power is its own excuse” for behaving as he does. Which is why it is important that we resist him and his ilk and get them out of power.
Resistance is not futile.