Trump’s Self-Pardon Parlay
Because he was not removed from office during his impeachment proceedings, Donald Trump has developed an inflated view about his power. This Includes a belief that he can grant himself a pardon. I’m sure he’ll try. It’s the kind of doubling down a drunk gambler does in desperation. The greed and excitement of going all in only looks smart when there’s a winning outcome. If Trump loses the battle of self-pardon in the Supreme Court, he will be the target of endless litigation and charges. This man’s mad acts have made America vindictive and about 60% of the folks in the country will want their pound of flesh.
By now, most Americans have heard the damaging excerpts from the conversation between President Donald Trump and Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger. With all the hubbub surrounding the legitimacy of the 2020 election, more people than ever understand the responsibilities of our secretaries of state (SOS). It’s ironic that the SOS acronym also means Save Our Ship, the distress call of the high seas.
The work of our state secretaries is easily seen because it involves the public interest. Here is an example of the investigative results by Georgia’s SOS office. These people do good work, and they should be respected unless they are suppressing the vote, which sometimes happen when they navigate the rough waters between partisan desires and public duty. Some pilot that craft well, while others are just as bad as those who desire to control them.
My hats off to Raffensperger for his honor, honesty and valor during the horrendous misuse of power Donald Trump and his enablers wielded on that phone call. The obstruction of justice and attempted law breaking is embarrassing for America and a dark stain on Democracy itself. As we hear legal experts pontificate and explain whether this man in the White House broke the law, some answer by saying a president cannot be indicted while in office. Yes, I get that, but it doesn’t answer the question if Trump’s behavior was illegal. Had anyone else made a phone call like Trump’s they would have been charged. Ask Rod Blagojevich, who was convicted of attempting to sell a Senate seat and sent to prison. By the way, he owes his freedom to Donald Trump, the friend who pardoned him.
That brings us to whether Trump will pardon himself. Will he take the risk of executing a flawed and thin authority of self-pardon? Maybe he will pull a fast one by excluding himself from a bunch of new pardons, then resigning with a diabolical plot in place. After the Chief Justice swears in Mike Pence as the new president, Pence would then pardon Trump. Is such a plan viable? It would most certainly bring political destruction and death to Pence. Is such ass kissing worth it Mikey?
Trying to parlay power into his next life would be a giant risk for Donald Trump. He’s got little credibility with anyone except the tyrants and dictators who rule some other countries. Even Israel, who appears to kowtow to him, would reject any attempt on his part to move there. Their hardcore political partisans are worse than anything we have in the US. In the bitter end, when banks and lenders come knocking on Trump’s door to collect on their loans, he’s going to have to pay up. The regulatory agencies in many countries are wise to the con and will be opening major inquiries into their corporations. For example, we’ll probably see Germany launch a major investigation into Deutsche Bank. There is a reason for this kind of extreme caution and oversight, it’s called money laundering.
So, Trump faces a serious conundrum. If he resigns, he will seem weak and guilty to his loyal followers. If he stays in office until January 20th, he could lose his chance of pardon. If he finds out that his “self-pardon” ruse didn’t work, he will have to continue his pattern of lies and lawsuits to avoid the inevitable, being charged and prosecuted. Donald believes he never does anything wrong and, in his tiny mind, can’t possibly think that his actions are above the law.
Trump’s weekend phone call was illuminating because it showed, once again, what Michael Cohen and James Comey have said about the Donald. Like a mafia boss, he never directly says what he’s asking. It’s coyly done with intimidation and a slight nudge and wink. He never said, “You need to say I got more votes.” His words were, “What I need…” leaving the listener to intuit his actual meaning. When Trump said that he “won the election,” Raffensperger swatted back with a polite, “Your numbers are not correct.” Someone with less balance and political savvy would have retorted to Trump’s allegation that their action is criminal by asking, “Are you threatening me?” To the credit of the Georgia officials, they didn’t escalate the matter in that way. Smart.
When I was a young man in Pittsburgh, I had a friend who ran the jewelry store where number slips for the local boss were collected. One night, he, I and a group of others went to a restaurant in the East Liberty section of town called, Win, Place and Show. When our group of partiers wanted to get another round of drinks, the waiter replied, “Okay, is this one check?” Being the jerk in the group, I barked, “How about one more drink for the road?” The waiter then peered at my jeweler buddy and quietly said, “It’s time.” After we made our way to the parking lot, I saw five black limos with their motors running in the back. I asked my friend what this was all about, and he apologized saying he forgot it was the night for the weekly meeting of the mob families. I froze.
This encounter taught me two things. One, actions can be easily provoked and, two, even though a place serves great food one must never assume the establishment believes that the customer is always right. I survived my naivete to write this blog and eat Italian food.
Should the time come when Donald John Trump announces that he will pardon himself for acts during his presidency, we must all ask these questions. What are the next steps and who will launch the lawsuit to erase this pardon? Should Trump attempt to pardon himself for all things during his presidency, then someone needs to open that can of worms and address each of the slimy lies. After all is said and done, the Donald will slink away to Florida, watch TV and throw continuous tweet-shoes at the screen, becoming a caricature of himself. As he ages and his bloated face slowly melts into long wrinkles and sagging jowls, people will walk away from him. He’s certainly the worst president in my lifetime, and that’s a seventy-plus years run.
There are times lawyers criticize me for making a statement they consider to be my “opinion.” Well, there are three reasons beyond my opinions about why I believe Trump broke the law during his call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. First, there is a law that says such behavior is illegal. Next, the officials in Georgia knew that Donald was attempting to intimidate them, so they recorded the call and then released it to the press. It doesn’t matter what Trump says about his intent. The people on the other end of the call believed he was asking them to commit fraud.
Finally, there’s this. Trump attempted that call 18 times, obsessing over his need to have that conversation. He had a plan to overturn the election and was antsy to press the deceit. It’s like a three-strikes and your out legal matter. Donald Trump is guilty of violating the fundamental tenets of the law: “…prohibits any person, in an election for federal office, from defrauding or attempting to defraud the residents of a state of a fair election through casting or tabulating ballots that the offender knows are materially false or fraudulent under state law.” This isn’t obstruction of justice, it’s a clear case of soliciting and encouraging fraud. Case closed.
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