Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Trump has prepared his forgiveness list for family and caregivers – and possibly himself

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President Donald Trump has prepared a comprehensive list of people he hopes to forgive in the final days of his government, which includes senior White House officials, family members, prominent rappers – and possibly himself, according to people familiar with the matter.

Trump hopes to announce pardons on Jan. 19 – his last full day in office – and his ideas are currently being considered by senior advisers and the White House board office, the people said.

Perhaps the biggest question facing his legal team is whether the president has the power to forgive himself, as he has discussed in recent weeks with key aides, according to people familiar with his conversations. Trump has claimed power in the past, although this is a legal dispute and has never been attempted by a president.

A self-forgiveness could also prove major political responsibility and hamper another presidential candidacy, with opponents sure to suggest that self-forgiveness amounted to an admission that he believed he could be prosecuted for breaking the law.

Preventive pardons are being discussed for senior White House officials who have not been charged with crimes, including Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Senior Advisor Stephen Miller, Chief of Staff John McEntee and social media director Dan Scavino.

The president’s eldest daughter Ivanka Trump, her husband Jared Kushner, both of whom hold White House positions, are also under consideration, people said. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani also discussed the issue of forgiveness with the president.

Preventive pardons are also being considered for other members of the president’s family, as well as for friends and allies. For example, Trump granted a preventive pardon to Kimberly Guilfoyle, the former Fox News host who is dating his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.

The president wants preventive pardons to protect recipients from prosecution for any federal crimes committed before pardons are issued.

He is also considering a traditional pardon for Albert Pirro, who previously worked with the president on real estate transactions and was convicted of tax evasion. Pirro is the ex-husband of Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, a former Westchester County district attorney in New York City.

Celebrity Pardons

Trump is also considering forgiving celebrities, including rapper Lil Wayne – with whom he posed for a photo during the presidential campaign – as well as rapper Kodak Black, who is serving time for falsifying paperwork in order to obtain a gun. fire.

Other prominent celebrities, including rapper Lil Yachty and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, have publicly pressured Trump to forgive Kodak Black, who said in a now-deleted tweet that he would donate $ 1 million to a charity if the president freed him.

Trump’s list is currently under scrutiny by lawyers who fear pardons will create new allegations of obstruction of justice for members of the administration. The process is managed in part by White House attorney Pat Cipollone. A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While some of the proposed pardons have passed the necessary legal steps inside the White House, the idea of ​​self-pardon is much less developed, people say, and so far only at the discussion stage.

Protect Trump

A self-pardon could protect Trump from prosecution for a myriad of issues his political opponents have suggested may merit prosecution, from his federal tax returns to the silence of money payments to an adult movie star to spending on his inaugural committee at locations owned by the Trump Family.

Some Democrats have continued to say that Trump should face a legal review of the Russian meddling campaign in the 2016 election, although special counsel Robert Mueller has found no evidence that the president colluded with the President. Kremlin. And in recent days, Trump has drawn attention to his efforts to pressure Georgian officials to overturn the presidential election results in that country, as well as to incite what has become a violent mob that has stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday.

A U.S. Capitol Police Officerdeceasedinjuries he suffered “during physical contact with demonstrators” during the unrest, according to the department. The officer was the fifth person to die in the assault on the Capitol.

The Constitution states that a president “shall have the power to grant stays and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in the event of removal.” This sprawling authority is considered absolute by some, although a Justice Department legal opinion of 1974 stated that “the president cannot forgive himself”, because of what he described as “a fundamental rule that no one can be a judge in his own case”.

Brian Kalt, a professor at Michigan State University College of Law who has written extensively on self-forgiveness, said it was not clear if the president could do so.

“The main argument for the power of self-forgiveness is that the Constitution does not expressly exclude it, and that the power of forgiveness is extremely broad,” he said.

“The argument against self-forgiveness begins with the idea that granting a forgiveness is, by definition, something that can only be done to another person,” Kalt said. “There is also a general principle in the law that you cannot be a judge in your own case.”

Ford and Nixon

Trump would not be the first person to preemptively issue pardons, although action is rare. Gerald Ford did it for Richard Nixon only a month after his resignation following the Watergate scandal, granting him “complete, free and absolute pardon” for the offenses he “has committed or may have committed or in which he participated. »During his entire term as President.

Trump’s power of forgiveness extends only to federal crimes, meaning he could not protect himself or his family from legal issues at the state level. New York Attorney General Letitia James had opened a civil fraud investigation into the president’s businesses, while Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance was continuing a criminal investigation.

Trump has already granted pardons to several political allies and friends, including in the weeks following his re-election.

Among those pardoned in recent days were Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who had been convicted of financial crimes and illegal lobbying, and Charles Kushner, the real estate developer and father of the president’s son-in-law. The elder Kushner was convicted of charges which included preparing false income tax returns and witness reprisals.

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