A preventive amnesty could speed up state investigations outside the scope of the presidential pardon
The appearance this past Thursday of the President of the United States, Donald Trump, to appease criticism for fomenting the assault of his supporters on the Capitol by guaranteeing for the first time an orderly transition of power to his successor, Joe Biden, reflects the delicate period that his prospects for the future go through when he leaves power, at which time multiple additional investigations could be reactivated, leading him to openly consider forgiveness as a last resort.
The biggest legal threat facing Trump right now is a fraud investigation being carried out by the state of New York into the businesses of the North American tycoon. It is a state-wide case that is not protected by the presidential pardon given that Trump is being investigated as a private citizen, without any relation to the decisions made since he came to power in 2016.
Specifically, the New York Prosecutor’s Office is examining possible crimes related to the Trump Organization, the business conglomerate that the now president founded and suspected of falsifying records, tax fraud or insurance fraud. It was also there that Trump’s previous lawyer, Michael Cohen, came to plead guilty for violating campaign regulations by acknowledging that he paid $ 130,000 to actress Stormy Daniels not to publicly reveal an ‘affair’ in which the aforementioned includes Trump. The court documents cite “individual 1”, who was a “successful candidate for the Presidency” of the United States, as a conspirator.
On the other hand, the attorney general of New York, Letitia James, investigates four real estate projects of the Trump Organization and its failed attempt to buy the Buffalo Bills rugby team. The investigations are in this case civil, not criminal, but it is not ruled out that they may be referred to other prosecutors if indications arise.
And if the business arena can provide more of a headache for civilian Trump, so can the staff. In recent years, several women have accused the president of incidents of a sexual nature, something that the president has always denied, even publicly mocking the alleged victims.
While waiting for the results, two more investigations could be added, with an even more uncertain conclusion: the possibility of reopening the case about the Russian obstruction in his favor during the elections four years ago and, as it has transpired in recent hours , the start of proceedings on his role in encouraging Wednesday’s assault on the Capitol, which has resulted in five deaths.
Until the fateful assault, Trump had spent weeks discussing with his narrow circle of advisers the possibility of forgiving himself in an unprecedented application of this extraordinary presidential contest; a tool in principle quite useful that, always in principle, would absolve him of crimes such as pressuring a state official to alter the outcome of the presidential elections in Georgia, a crime that could be inferred from the call he made a few days ago to the secretary of the State, Brad Raffensperger.
However, the idea of self-amnesty is far from clear. In fact, the White House Office of Legal Counsel has held for decades as a principle that the president lacks the power to forgive himself, as featured in a memorandum issued just before President Richard Nixon’s resignation in August 1974. The lawyers argued that, in very general terms, “no one can be a judge in his own case,” although they noted that the vice president or Congress could pardon a president in certain situations.
Faced with this scenario, Trump considers that he is fully capable of forgiving himself, although he has also boasted that he has no reason to do so, considering that he has not committed any crime. “As many jurists have stated, I have the absolute right to forgive myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” The president said in 2018 through a message posted on his Twitter account.
ROOM FOR MANEUVER
Right now and unless he decides to resign – as the bastion of conservative journalism that is the ‘Wall Street Journal’ has asked him in recent hours -, everything seems to indicate that Trump will fulfill his mandate until the last day. Logic dictates that the president will dedicate his last days to managing his future, which could become really thorny if he decides to open the path of self-amnesty, according to legal experts.
Sources from the CNN chain have confirmed that the president-elect, Joe Biden, does not intend to fuel a persecution against Trump at the moment, and that the leaders of the Republican Party are not going to invoke the Twenty-fifth Amendment that would facilitate the replacement of the president by inability.
Similarly, the option of immediate impeachment against Trump, as House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has suggested, seems increasingly remote for the reason that the US Congress has already closed its regular sessions. until Biden’s inauguration on January 20. No further progress in this regard is envisaged until at least the beginning or the middle of next week.
However, it is possible to carry out an ‘impeachment’ a posteriori; one that could lead to an unexpected and brutal blow to Trump: a disqualification that would prevent him from running in the 2024 election.
If Trump ends up giving in to the pressure and declares his intention to forgive himself, the consequences for him could be catastrophic. “Not only is the idea itself inconceivable to me,” Hastings law professor Joel Paul tells ABC, “but to begin with, I would have to list the possible crimes he may have committed before proclaiming forgiveness.”
To this we must add that the declaration of self-amnesty would be a kind of catalyst that would accelerate the rest of the pending investigations against him, the state one in New York in particular, and against which the pardon does not provide any cover.
A positive aspect would be the legal bog down that Trump would create if necessary. CNN legal analyst Elie Honig noted last year that a self-pardon would likely trigger a series of legal challenges that would cloud other proceedings.
“First, a prosecutor would have to indict Trump. Then the matter would have to be litigated before the courts, the Supreme Court included. Trump has almost no problem in at least giving it a try and see if it sticks,” Honig opined in July, “and A shield, no matter how small, is better than no shield at all. “
FINAL ROUND OF FORGIVENESS
This Friday, and according to Bloomberg sources, Trump plans to declare a final round of pardons for his narrowest circle of advisers. According to these sources, the president would announce the pardons on January 19, the last day of his mandate before the transfer of powers.
The recipients would include his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, his domestic policy adviser, Stephen Miller, his chief of staff, John McEntee, and his director of social media communication, Dan Scavino. The possibility of issuing a preventive pardon is also contemplated for his eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump and his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, as well as for his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.