In the final months of his presidency, a new scandal has arisen in the Trump administration regarding a new round of pardons, adding on to the list of now 45 acts of clemency; the lowest of any president in the past 100 years. Those on the list of new pardons include Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his children, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., close allies like his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, as well as the president himself. The key detail is that none of these pardons are to clear current charges, they’re preemptive measures to protect the people from any future federal investigations. While the pardons for all except the president are on firm legal ground, that doesn’t take away from the clear suspicion that rises from pardoning people that supposedly have nothing to be guilty about. Yet.
As for Donald Trump pardoning himself, there are far more grey areas. The act isn’t specifically illegal, but it has never been attempted before, and there is a large amount of discourse regarding whether or not the president should do such a thing, even if he technically could. Even King George III didn’t have the power to pardon himself; suggesting the President should have power exceeding that of a king is rather unamerican. Furthermore, these pardons don’t exempt the people from local or state level prosecutions, which many of those on the list have plenty of. There is a high chance the discourse surrounding the credibility of these actions can tarnish the prospective 2024 Trump campaign.
Once Trump is out of office, the immunity granted to presidents will swiftly leave him exposed to a multitude of legal troubles. One of the most prevalent cases is the charges against Trump’s one-time personal attorney Michael Cohen, who was charged with arranging hush money from women who partook in affairs with Trump before he was in office. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. also has a large investigation against Trump and his business for possible insurance fraud, along with the New York Attorney General Letitia James for inflating the value of Trump Organization assets. However, regarding federal charges, President-elect Joe Biden has stated he doesn’t wish to pursue charges against his predecessor, considering such an act would ignite even further controversy and divide in a country that is already torn from the recent election.
Whether or not Donald Trump will be prosecuted is still up in the air, however there is still a strong case to be made that the preemptive pardons already make the president and his associates look guilty as charged.
*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.