Trump’s infamous Self Pardon

This tweet, by The Donald, has received a lot of press:

If Trump has the “absolute right to PARDON himself,” then that applies for any crime. Couldn’t he kill Robert Mueller and then pardon himself for murder?

And if he’s done nothing wrong, why is he fighting testifying before a grand jury, something he once said he welcomed?

In the latest press conference with Sarah Huckabee Sanders, look how she refuses to answer the repeated questions about whether the President thinks he’s above the law, and whether he might pardon himself. She’s a travesty, but of course most Presidential press secretaries are; they get paid to avoid questions, to lie, and to dissimulate:

And another tweet about the new charges against Paul Manafort:

131 Comments

  1. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    This is scary stuff. I feel for you guys over the pond and I have my fingers crossed that this won’t go where I fear it will. We have our own problems in Britain, but they’re small fry compared with the immediate, possibly existential threat posed by Trump.

    • Craw
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      Aren’t people going to jail for Facebook posts, or reporting on mass rape in the UK? Aren’t there no-go zones? Kitchen knife hysteria? I saw the Yorkshire police threatening to arrest anyone who mocked them online. Corbyn is an anti Semitic nutter, and your government seems confused on Brexit.

      • Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        Yeah, an English ex-pat friend is deeply worried about her homeland in much the same way I am about mine.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        No it’s not the same, and to cherry-pick a couple of(arguably) stupid decisions by the legal system doesn’t make it so.

        Jeremy Corbyn is not an “anti-Semitic nutter”. He’s a far-left simpleton who has a habit of hanging around with people from Palestine and Iran, etc. who tend to have very dodgy views on a whole load of stuff. He’s an ineffectual dope but to imply(if you were) some kind of even vague equivalence between him and Trump is a spectacular reach. And most people, even his critics, admit that he’s not anti-Semitic. He’s just a petulant, far-left man-child with some stupid but typical ideas about western foreign policy and a few well-meaning but financially unsustainable policy ideas.

        No-go zones? Kitchen knife hysteria? It sounds like you’ve been getting your news on Britain from some pretty skewed sources. I think we have slightly different political stances, at least from what I remember of some of your past posts, and the bulletpoints you’re citing are exactly the ones that the most extreme right-wing papers in the country put on their front pages(as well as Breitbart and the Daily Caller etc.). This past month it was the issues you mention. Come back in another couple of months and they’ll have changed target. After all, which ‘no-go zones'(?) are they talking about? And how much would America give to have an extremely isolated problem with knife attacks rather than assault rifle mass murders? Who is it who’s “going to jail for reporting on mass rapes”?

        Our government is certainly confused on Brexit. It’s a shambles, but thankfully the extent and the intensity of the right/left polarisation isn’t anywhere near the same as it seems to be in America.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted June 5, 2018 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

          What you said!

        • Posted June 6, 2018 at 2:25 am | Permalink

          Who is it who’s “going to jail for reporting on mass rapes”?

          I think that’s Tommy Robinson who broke a court order not to report on a rape trial and was thus in contempt. He also had a suspended sentence from an unrelated offence which was triggered by this new offence.

      • Neil
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        That is a gross oversimplication and deliberate use of emotive and loaded terms to the point of complete misrepresentation.

        All except the last bit about government confusion over brexit which is (IMO) rather an understatement.

        • Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

          So…is Craw wrong? Those things have not happened? Serious question. Saul makes a good point – all I hear on this side of the pond is what is reported in the media, and…well…I’m with Elon Musk on this issue. As I mentioned above, a friend of mine formerly from London is very worried about the state of affairs there, but I must confess I have no other source except the media. I have no trust in anything I read from news sources these days.

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted June 5, 2018 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

            I think the onus is on Craw himself to validate those claims. I can tell you they are rarely raised as news stories; not because there’s some grand liberal bias in the British media but because they’re the kind of minor, cherry-picked news issue that the hard-right British tabloids will alight on for a few days at most and then never mention again.

            Unfortunately the American hard-right will glom onto these relatively small stories and spin them out for literally years afterwards, to the complete consternation of people who actually live in the country. It’s who knows how long since some fatuous know-nothing went on Fox News talking about ‘no-go zones’ in Birmingham, and I still see it raised by American conservatives who have absolutely no idea whether Birmingham is in England, Scotland, Wales…

            The inconvenient truth for American conservatives is that, in spite of all our flaws and in spite of the rank incompetence of Brexit, western Europe is in a(arguably much) healthier shape societally than America, and its scores on the social progress indices attest to that. That doesn’t mean we’re doing brilliantly, but it does make a nonsense of the American right’s descriptions of a Europe that is overrun by transgender Muslims on welfare/bankrupted by socialist governments/under the control of terrifying hordes of LGTBQ university students who roam the streets forcing people at gunpoint to call them by their chosen gender.

          • Mark
            Posted June 5, 2018 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

            Perhaps Fox and Brebart are not the best sources of news.

            • Posted June 5, 2018 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

              You intended this as in insult. But I don’t give a fig for what you think I do. Nevertheless, I do not trust anything from them and they are not the only media sources that suffer from credibility problems.

              • Mark
                Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

                Its wasnt an insult at all – just a statement of fact. It’s symptomatic of why we have the mass issues of “fake news” ie primarily because it does exits. Your “sensitivity” shows more than my comment does.

          • Neil
            Posted June 6, 2018 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

            Yes.

            E.g No one is beinging jailed for ‘reporting on mass rape’.
            I suggest you read up on the Tommy Robinson case (use a variety of sources) and you’ll see what he was actullay jailed for and that those cases were being reported on by the mainstream media.

      • Posted June 6, 2018 at 2:20 am | Permalink

        Apart from the fact that your descriptions are all heavily spun versions of the truth, I don’t think any of them are worse than your president declaring himself to be above the law and everything that implies.

  2. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    “Couldn’t he kill Robert Mueller and then pardon himself for murder?”

    Sssssshhhh!!!

    Don’t give him ideas! 😦

    cr

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      I don’t think he needs any help, but Giuliani opined just a day or so ago that Trump could kill James Comey with impunity. And don’t forget that when Trump was running for office, he said that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose votes. Funny how these folks have no compunction to crack rather threatening jokes about offing people just to prove somebody’s popularity. No wonder he sucks up to vile, murderous dictators like Little Fatty, Duterte, et al.

    • Posted June 5, 2018 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Simple answer is no he couldn’t. Murder is a state crime and not covered by his pardon power for federal crimes.

      Please don’t tell me it would be federal since it could be in DC 😁

      • Posted June 5, 2018 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

        As I noted below this morning, there are many murder charges that can be brought by the feds. Killing Mueller could be Federal murder charge because he might be considered a law enforcement officer (18 U.S.C. Section 1114) -I am not sure if he can be considered a LEO, though. But it may also be possible to bring Federal murder charges for killing him if it is done in an effort to undermine a federal case (18 U.S.C. Section 1512).

        In any event, it isn’t true that murder is only a state crime and under Federal law, murder is punishable by death.

        • Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

          I know that. Many crimes are crimes under both federal and state statute. My point is that he could be charged by a state and he has no pardon power there.

          • Dale Franzwa
            Posted June 6, 2018 at 12:26 am | Permalink

            I heard on one news program (can’t remember which) that Trump can’t pardon himself because it’s a well established legal principle that one cannot sit in judgement on himself. I hope that the Supreme Court agrees with that, should the occasion arise. In other words, no one is above the law.

  3. GBJames
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    I’m disputing this as overly cynical: “most Presidential press secretaries are; they get paid to avoid questions, to lie, and to dissimulate”. This is absolutely true for ALL of Trump’s. And I remember some comedic moments during the Bush years. But most Press Secretaries have taken the job of providing information seriously.

    • sensorrhea
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      Agreed. We shouldn’t normalize Trump’s press secretaries with a “they all do it” hand-wave. They are far greater fictionalists than we’ve ever suffered.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      Yeah, that was a little rough. Dubya’s communications people weren’t that bad. And Obama’s boy Josh Earnest was one smooth mofo. 🙂

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        Watchin’ Josh Earnest at the press-room podium was like watchin’ Sandy Koufax throw a shut out.

        • Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:48 am | Permalink

          My dad used to say there were two beautiful things in the world; my mother and Koufax on the mound.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted June 5, 2018 at 11:33 am | Permalink

            Yer mamma musta been one good-lookin’ gal, to get compared to The Lefty like that. 🙂

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted June 5, 2018 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

            I was 12 in ’65 when Koufax refused to pitch a World Series game on Yom Kippur. I’m not Jewish, and at that age I’m not sure I even knew a Jew, let alone knew what “Yom Kippur” meant. But I knew he was standin’ up for something bigger than baseball — bigger even than baseball! — and it struck a chord with me.

            And, Christ Almighty, could that man pitch. For a while there, for about half a decade in the middle of the Sixties, he was as good as there ever was.

            • Posted June 5, 2018 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

              I’ve been told that Pops brought my brother and me to watch him pitch, but I have no recollection (I was 4). He’s only one of four or five pitchers to have more career strike outs than innings pitched! Nolan Ryan, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson are (I think) the only others. Stratospheric greatness.

    • Posted June 5, 2018 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      “Serious” and “lie” are not necessarily opposed. I think the Iraqi known as “Baghdad Bob” would count as doing both.

      • GBJames
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        I think in this context, they are very much opposed. If you take your job as a press secretary seriously you don’t constantly lie the way Huckabee-Sanders does (and Spicer before did).

        • Zetopan
          Posted June 8, 2018 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

          Don’t forget “Bagdad” Kellyanne Conway and her “alternative facts”!

          • GBJames
            Posted June 9, 2018 at 8:28 am | Permalink

            We must never forget the Bowling Green Massacre.

  4. sensorrhea
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    If the President can pardon himself/herself then why is there an impeachment clause? It’s ridiculous.

    But the fact that the constitution isn’t more explicit about this is also absurd.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      Framers in Philadelphia had a lotta big fish to fry — like plastering over the differences between North and South on slavery — so mighta gone a little light on the filigree regarding impeachment.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        I suspect they never imagined the need to deal with a president like Trump simply never occurred to them.

        Just like they didn’t realize how some people would choose to interpret the 2nd Amendment.

        In fact, since a citizen militia is no longer required, why hasn’t it been repealed? (Yes, I do know why not.)

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted June 5, 2018 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, the Framers were an exceptional bunch — especially for a rough-hewn nation of under 4 million people — but they weren’t soothsayers. And while they were wary of autocrats, no way could they have anticipated the dangers of a demagogue like Trump in the age of mass media.

        • Diane G
          Posted June 6, 2018 at 1:31 am | Permalink

          Ironically, I’ve read that the Electoral College was created in an attempt to avoid the possibility of a demagogue like Trump becoming President.

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted June 6, 2018 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

            Yep. Iirc, that was part of the reasoning used by those requesting electoral college voters to vote proportionately in 2016, instead of just as the majority in their states voted.

            It wasn’t the people of the US who voted for Trump. They voted for Clinton. It was the Electoral College.

            • Diane G
              Posted June 7, 2018 at 3:29 am | Permalink

              And it wasn’t that long ago that it happened before! What if Dubya hadn’t been so blessed? Possibly no Iraq War, for starters. A Gore administration certainly wouldn’t have acted based on neocon miltarism. And perhaps it might actually have paid attention to some of the pre-9/11 intelligence reports on Al Queda…

              • Diane G
                Posted June 7, 2018 at 3:30 am | Permalink

                “militarism”

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      Yes, it’s like they would say, one day they will probably elect a goon like Trump so we better get more specific on this one. They inserted a 5th Article in there so there is nothing to stop others from further clarification over the past 230 years or so.

    • Posted June 5, 2018 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      And impeachment is for removing a POTUS from office, not for criminal penalty.

      The pardon power is for criminal offenses.

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Busy making America gag again. So the news is not all bad. If you are part of the Philadelphia Eagles you don’t have to go to the white house. The Mueller team and others are probably going to put Manafort in jail very soon and begin sorting thru all the stuff they got from the Cohen raids. Someone needs to explain to trump, you actually need to be charged with something before you pardon them. I don’t think you get to pardon yourself from impeachment. He must already be declaring himself guilty.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      I think Manafort will be in jail soon too. He’s broken his bail conditions too many times.

      I don’t think Manafort is worried about Trump. His fear is Putin imo. I think Putin arranged for hm to be part of Trump’s campaign, and he’s far scarier than Trump or prison. I’ve said this before on my site: everyone’s talking about Trump signalling potential pardons. What about Putin signalling a very painful death if you flip on him with the recent poisonings in England? He’s pointing out he can get you anytime, anywhere.

      With Putin in mind, Manafort is going to keep trying to fix things, whatever Trump or the US justice system threaten.

  6. Blue
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    in re kings and others so self – “elevated” and
    from the American Gigolo in re both
    the criminal and the persons covering up
    the crimes:

    “And you know better?” Detective Sunday queries the American Gigolo.

    “Some people are above the law,” Julian Kay responds coolly.

    “Well, how do these people know who they are?”

    “They know. They ask themselves.”

    Do they ever ! I would soooo know
    of this self – maneuvering.

    Blue

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Couldn’t he kill Robert Mueller and then pardon himself for murder?

    Murder, tout court, is a state rather than federal crime (though with Mueller being special counsel, it might also run afoul of the federal anti-assassination statute, too). A president has no power to pardon anyone (much less himself) for state crimes, meaning Trump could still be prosecuted for it even if he granted himself a pardon — which may be the only thing standing between us and Muellercide.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      Trump should take some lessons from George the III. Cut their heads off, you don’t shoot them. Shooting is what peasants do. I’ll bet Manafort will keep a warm spot for him in prison. Are those handcuffs too tight?

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:15 am | Permalink

        Errm, sorry? When did George cut anybody’s head off?

        I’ve just been reading the Wikipedia page on George III and he seems to emerge in a far better light than it is popular to portray him in the USA (who, after all, were the enemy). Yes he did suffer from periods of mental illness in later life. The British governing establishment handled this by appointing a Regent to act in his stead for the duration – something which George (after he recovered from one of his spells of illness) to his credit agreed with.

        On the whole, you folks could well have appointed a ‘regent’ for the Orange One on the day after the Inauguration. I can’t help thinking that Mr Trump seems to think the President enjoys the same sort of status and absolute power that a King of the old days is popularly believed to have had (but almost never, in reality, actually did).

        cr

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:26 am | Permalink

          A regent, that’s a good one. With an executive branch the size of a corporation and more lawyers than the mob boss, a regent you say?

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:32 am | Permalink

            Okay, I admit it, the suggestion was purely a bit of snark levelled at the stability and mental capacity of the present incumbent.

            But I think my comment on Mr Trump’s view of Presidential powers may not be far wide of the mark.

            cr

            • Randall Schenck
              Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:45 am | Permalink

              Oh, I agree. He changes lawyers like most people change their underwear. Any law is just something other people worry about and just stands in the way, kind of like a bra on a female. I speak specifically of Trump.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:32 am | Permalink

          According to the play by Mr. Bennett, Ol’ George coulda used a check-up from the neck up. 🙂

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

            Yes, but bear in mind he ruled for 59 years. Of which his periods of ‘madness’ amounted to maybe a dozen years (for most of which a Regent was standing in for him).

            The popular one-line summation of him as ‘mad King George’ is as misleading by omission as most one-note descriptions of historical figures.

            For example, from Wikipedia: “George’s collection of mathematical and scientific instruments is now … housed in the Science Museum… He had the King’s Observatory built in Richmond-upon-Thames for his own observations of the 1769 transit of Venus. When William Herschel discovered Uranus in 1781, he at first named it Georgium Sidus (George’s Star) after the King, who later funded the construction and maintenance of Herschel’s 1785 40-foot telescope, which was the biggest ever built at the time.”

            Oh, and he took his Royal duties very seriously and (unlike many) was never a womaniser. And (until he went mad) he led the resistance to Napoleon’s megalomaniac ambitions.

            cr

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted June 5, 2018 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

              Also, by then the king hadn’t had the power to shout, “off with his head” for over a century.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted June 5, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

                Doesn’t seem fair, being a king and all and not being able to “off with their heads!” on occasion.

                I mean, how’re you ‘spozed to pour encourager les autres then, anyway? 🙂

  8. Dustin
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Murder is not a federal crime, it is a state crime. He can only pardon federal crimes but has no authority to pardon state crimes

    • Posted June 5, 2018 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      Okay, then, armed robbery, assassination, assault with a deadly weapon. The list of federal crimes is long (see here), and your caveat doesn’t negate my point.

    • another fred
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      There are Federal statutes that cover crimes by Federal officials while in office.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      I think you might have a problem with that. If you murder a federal prosecutor me thinks that is a federal crime.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        I am not a lawyer but, would the fact that something is a (pre-pardoned) Federal crime preclude his being charged under applicable State law? Particularly if the Federal authorities declined/omitted to charge him for the offence?

        cr

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:02 am | Permalink

          I am no lawyer either but a pre-pardoned crime? In our short history I don’t recall a sitting president killing anyone. Some did prior and then we did have a VP who killed and I think Jefferson wanted him convicted. I’m guessing that was in federal court, not sure.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:26 am | Permalink

            ‘Pre-pardoned’ was probably a misleading crack of mine.

            My main point was, though, that even if an act was a Federal crime subject to pardon, surely that wouldn’t preclude the State charging him with a crime under the relevant State statute? Or would double jeopardy operate? My mind’s eye can see the bizarre spectacle of the Prez demanding/ordering that he be charged with a Federal crime to pre-empt and preclude State prosecution…

            cr

          • Terry Sheldon
            Posted June 5, 2018 at 11:33 am | Permalink

            Burr was charged with murder in state court, but never came to trial. He was later charged with treason in federal court and acquitted.

    • Posted June 5, 2018 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      Murder is not a Federal crime? You sure about that? Google is your friend.

      There are at least 10 Federal murder statutes on the books, including the killing of elected officials (U.S.C. Section 351, 1751), a federal judge or law enforcement officer (18 U.S.C. Section 1114) or an immediate family member (18 U.S.C. Section 115(b)(3)), killing to affect a federal case (18 U.S.C. Section 1512) or during the robbery of a bank (18 U.S.C. Section 1512), the murder of a child under certain circumstance ((18 U.S.C. Section 2248, 2251)), murders committed aboard a ship ((18 U.S.C. Section 2280), drug related murders ((18 U.S.C. Section 36, 924(i)) or murder for hire ((18 U.S.C. Section 1958))

      Federal murder charges are punishable by death.

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        This is another reason why Giuliani is a lousy lawyer. He should check this stuff before talking about murdering Comey.
        Weird that I have to say that.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted June 5, 2018 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

          That’s what blows me away a bit. Despite how bad some other modern presidents were, would this conversation even be happening? But it’s Trump, so anything is possible.

          And it amazes me that if Trump were to murder someone, and pardon himself, everyone is talking like he could just carry on as president, because that’s the law. (We also know that there are literally millions who would say Trump was justified in both actions.)

          Surely someone would at least find a way to get him removed because he wasn’t mentally well enough to carry on? Wouldn’t going around killing people be enough for Republicans to finally get rid of him? Would they fear getting rid of him more than keeping him if he’d got to the stage of murder?

          • Posted June 5, 2018 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

            The mind boggles, doesn’t it?

  9. Historian
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    impose authoritarian rule on the country. That fear is now coming to fruition, not in a sweeping stroke (at least as yet), but by a slow motion process. This fear of an imperial presidency is not new. It was present during the Nixon years and the subject of a book by the noted historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. In the 1970s the presidency was reigned in because members of both parties resisted executive encroachment. This situation does not exist today. The Republican Party is now the party of Trump. Most of its members are scared silly by the Trump cult and out of re-election concerns they will allow a crime family to run the country. I lived through the Watergate era and followed the scandal closely. I have concluded that American democracy and the rule of law is in much greater danger than back then. Whether they survive will be determined over the next two or three years. If it doesn’t the likes of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell will be as much to blame as Trump.

    In today’s NYT, reporter Charlie Savage has an article on how Trump and his lawyers are trying to legitimize the ever expansive power of the executive. Yet, the Republicans say nothing.

    • Historian
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      Reined in, not reigned in. I must be thinking too much of monarchs.

    • another fred
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      “impose authoritarian rule on the country. That fear is now coming to fruition, not in a sweeping stroke (at least as yet), but by a slow motion process. ”

      “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion… Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams

      I do not argue that the population of the US was perfectly moral and religious earlier, but it was less crowded and there were regionally dominant cultures.

      The Constitution can not handle our present situation. Recognizing this does not mean I look forward to what comes next.

    • Historian
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      I also made the mistake of cutting of the complete first sentence of my comment, which should be:

      “Prior to the election many feared (including myself) that as a quasi-fascist Trump would attempt to impose authoritarian rule on the country.”

      Sorry.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      Mark my words: we gonna end up with a constitutional crisis on our hands — and not just some run-of-the-mill Watergate-style constitutional crisis, but a full-blown shots-fired-at-Fort-Sumter-style shebang.

      • Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:54 am | Permalink

        Ken – do you really think it will become violent? Honest question. I agree we’re in for a crisis. I devoutly (in a FSM kind of way) hope you are wrong in the literal sense.

        • Historian
          Posted June 5, 2018 at 11:13 am | Permalink

          It is not inconceivable that widespread violence could ensue if Trump is forced to resign or is impeached and removed. Under such circumstances, it is almost certain that Trump would proclaim he was treated unfairly (one of his favorite words) and that his supporters should rally behind him. He would not explicitly call for violence, but it would be clearly implied. We could then see right-wing militias and some NRA members engaging in guerrilla warfare against certain politicians and perhaps the police. They would have the tacit support of many Trump supporters. In other words, total chaos could ensue with the breaking down of whatever democratic institutions still remain. If the military should institute a coup against those who brought down Trump, the end of democracy would be certain. If Trump is compelled to leave office, it may not be the end of the story, but the beginning of something very bad.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted June 5, 2018 at 11:44 am | Permalink

          I don’t think it will come to violence in any formal sense, though some clashes like Chicago ’68 aren’t beyond the realm.

          I was thinking more of how Trump — who has no bottom — might up and refuse to obey a Supreme Court order, or might fire Mueller and have his loyalists seize the special counsel’s files and bring them to the White House, that sorta thing.

          We’re living in interesting, and perilous, times.

          • GBJames
            Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

            Trump supporters aren’t the Chicago ’68 types. They are the militia types. They won’t riot, they will ambush and engage in shootouts.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted June 5, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

              It was the cops did the rioting in 1968 in Chicago.

              But, yeah, you might be right.

              • GBJames
                Posted June 5, 2018 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

                There were demonstrators in ’68. Trump supporters (mostly) aren’t demonstrators. (Except when they are looking to get involved in violence, as in Charlottesville.

    • darrelle
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      In my opinion Ryan and McConnell, and several other Republican party leaders and power brokers from the past couple of decades, are much more to blame than Trump. These reprehensible reprobates care nothing about principles or constituents, except as marks to be skinned. They’ve simply been engaged in an all out, gloves off power grab for themselves and their money masters. And even when Trump comes along and steals the machine they so arduously built right out from under them and ups the ante by an order of magnitude, the reprehensible reprobates are so immoral they let Trump blunder along almost completely unhindered because all they care about is retaining and stealing as much power as possible. These are some of the nastiest most traitorous people in the history of US government.

      Not only do they not give a damn about any damage they may cause to our traditional form of government or the governing philosophies of our founding fathers they are straightforwardly changing our government to a dictatorship. The gloves really came off in Bush Jr.’s administration. Many new precedents were set with the express purpose of taking powers away from the other two branches of government and gathering them to the executive branch. My opinion in the days when that was happening was that this is what would turn out to be the most damaging legacy of the Bush Jr. administration. And that’s saying a whole hell of a lot. My opinion now is that I was correct. Obama, for whatever reasons, didn’t undo any of that. And now we’ve got Trump benefiting from those expanded executive powers and attempting to expand them so blatantly that his followers may as well call him King.

      My fear is that if this Trump disaster does not inspire a “blue wave” and significant, rapid changes in the direction our government has been going for decades, then we may be in for a slow painful slide down to banana-republicville.

      • docbill1351
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:34 am | Permalink

        Adding to the perfect storm is decades of “dumbing down America” from weakening public education to the transition of the “nightly news” to mere entertainment and the relentless propaganda by the moral majority/tea party/freedom caucus, aka the pseudo-religious right. The only thing that will get Americans animated is the price of gasoline. Raise that and people will pay attention.

        • darrelle
          Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:45 am | Permalink

          Yeah. It’s all a huge interconnected putrid hairball of a mess.

          Just have to keep in mind that by many important measures we are doing better in many areas. My hope is that we are experiencing the backs-up-against-the-wall flight or fight reaction of what someone once accurately described as a “basket of deplorables,” in response to their awareness that their days of relative freedom to be respectably deplorable are passing.

    • Randy Bessinger
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      I agree. If Watergate happened today with today’s Congress and Fox news on his side, I believe Nixon would survive.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

        Hell, they’da crowned him Richard I when his second term was up in ’77.

        Mighta saved Spiro Agnew’s ass, too.

  10. Robert Ryder
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    It’s fascinating to consider that Trump and many of his supporters thought that Obama was abusing executive power and “shredding” the Constitution.

    • darrelle
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      Pocking delusional you mean.

    • Posted June 5, 2018 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      I think they were often right – the drone stuff especially. But, yes, they are of course brazen hypocrites. Surprise!

      • Randy Bessinger
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        Could Congress not have stopped “the drone stuff”? My instinct is they did not want to. I am not condoneing it, just begging the question.

      • Posted June 5, 2018 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        One meme I am constantly spreading (with examples cited): Hypocrisy: A Core GOP Value.

  11. another fred
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    “If Trump has the “absolute right to PARDON himself,” then that applies for any crime. Couldn’t he kill Robert Mueller and then pardon himself for murder?”

    I believe the President is immune from prosecution, except by the Congress (impeachment), while in office.

    After he has served his term … they can argue about it.

    • GBJames
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      If he has been pardoned, it will be a short argument.

  12. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    At yesterday’s presser, Huckabee also refused to answer questions about why she falsely claimed last July that Trump did not dictate his son’s dissembling press release about the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower Russian-collusion meeting (the one Junior initially claimed was all about adopting bouncy little Russian babies), now that the memo to Mueller from Trump’s lawyers admits that Trump did indeed dictate it while returning from Europe aboard Air Force One. (One of the lawyers who wrote the memo to Mueller, religious-right zealot Jay Sekulow, also denied at the time that Trump had dictated the dissimulating press release.)

    Is there anyone but glassy-eyed creatures from the far-right fever-swamp who actually believes that DJT himself wasn’t neck-deep in the planning of, and discussions about, the 6/9/16 Trump Tower meeting in which the Kremlin promised dirty dirt on Hillary?

    Even Steve Bannon and one-time Trump factotum Sam Nunberg have conceded that the Donald woulda been all over that like white on rice.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      It’s just incredible the lack of accountability that Trump has constructed for himself – banning certain media organisations from being involved in his press meets, barely ever turning up for interviews with the press and then only with Fox News.
      He has simply hived off one half of the country and is effectively being president for them alone. It’s a little world all of their own, where the rest of the country are not relevant in any way except insofar as they are the enemy. He is not governing America; he is governing the part of it that voted for him. He is leader of Trumpland. America as a whole isn’t of interest to him.

      This is the kind of latitude you can extend to yourself when you literally stop bothering to even attempt to appeal to the other side, and just focus with laser-guided precision on the conservative white majority.
      I’ve never seen a western politician who has been so utterly uninterested in appealing to anyone outside of ‘his’ voters. It’s obviously a risky electoral tactic, but it means you can really throw your base serious red meat in a way you can’t if you’ve also got the reaction of the rest of the country in the back of your mind all the time.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:29 am | Permalink

        To date, Donald Trump has had but one according-to-Hoyle press conference in the White House briefing room. It did not go well. By this stage in their tenures, other US presidents had held dozens.

        Trump’s tissue of lies and contradictions could not withstand scrutiny under serious questioning. Which is why he will never sit voluntarily for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump’s repeated promises that he would do so were simply so much expedient mendacity.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:52 am | Permalink

          It’s amazing. The freezing out of the press would be enough to keep critics of any of the past presidents talking for years had any of them done it.

          I’ve said it elsewhere but this kind of country-within-a-country that he’s creating for himself and his followers is how secessionist movements are born. He isn’t even pretending to govern the rest of America, he’s contemptuous of the mere idea of reaching out to people who didn’t vote for him. It’s extraordinary; he’s not actually governing America, he’s governing Trumpistan, an abstraction compirised of Trump voters and their interests.

          It’s how dictators operate too. They can’t be completely dictatorial, they need a solid base to support them, but it doesn’t need to be a majority it just needs to be extreme and fanatical and die-hard.

          It should terrify the life out of every decent American that Trump’s current political approach can be seamlessly mapped onto a dictatorship. Effectively Trump is running dictator-software on democracy-hardware. It is not that huge a step for him to change the hardware.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted June 5, 2018 at 11:09 am | Permalink

          BTW I clicked on that link… The hatred radiating off of him, the cold fury at his critics, the way he spoke to the reporters like they were cockroaches. He is an intensely hateful man.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, when Trump walked out of that press conference, I said to myself “I’ll be surprised if he ever does that again.” So far, he hasn’t.

    • darrelle
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      “Is there anyone but glassy-eyed creatures from the far-right fever-swamp who actually believes that DJT himself wasn’t neck-deep in the planning of, and discussions about, the 6/9/16 Trump Tower meeting in which the Kremlin promised dirty dirt on Hillary?

      Unfortunately there is. The decades long propaganda campaigns of the Republican party and its backers has been very successful. The sweet elderly lady down the street could be a Trump supporter. Much more likely that she at least is biased enough against the Democratic party that she gives Trump a relative pass. Too many humans are suckers. They actually tend to believe what scumbags like Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and even Trump say on TV. Tedious explanations demonstrating the lies are not convincing to them because . . . , well . . ., I don’t really know. I just know that this is very common among humans everywhere.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        You can fool some of the people all of the time …

      • Posted June 5, 2018 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        Yep, my Mom!

  13. Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  14. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Looking at it from the other side of the Atlantic the most frightening thing is the way that Trump and his actions and words have become normalised, precisely in the way that everyone was warning would happen. The sheer volume of bullshit and malice and rabble-rousing coming from him seems to be grinding everyone but his supporters down.

    This latest statement is obviously regarded as outrageous, but nowhere near as outrageous as it would have been even a year ago. It’s tempting to describe it as a collective ‘sleepwalking’ towards disaster – but that implies that liberals and centrists and Trump’s opponents in general are all oblivious, all unaware of the danger. That doesn’t seem to be the problem – the problem is the normalisation process that makes everyone involved in this, his supporters and his opponents and everyone in between, gradually shift their personal standards little by little until a statement as utterly unhinged as Guiliani’s remark about Trump killing Comey is met with raised eyebrows rather than astonishment and deep alarm.

    It’s very, very difficult to fight the slow numbing effect that daily exposure to his behaviour has on decent people. That is the most dangerous aspect in all this to me, that Americans are beginning to get used to any of this.

  15. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    There are two looming unresolved issues of constitutional law (unresolved primarily because our nation has been lucky enough not to have had much experience with criminal investigations of our chief executives over the past two centuries), issues that have now been brought front-and-center by Donald Trump: whether a sitting president can be indicted, and whether a president can pardon himself.

    Both issues test to the max our foundational principle that “no man person is above the law.”

    • Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      As nice as that bit sounds, it has never been true in practice. It isn’t just rhetoric when it is said that you get as much justice as you can afford. Many innocent people who couldn’t afford to effectively defend themselves have gone to prison and there are many, many more people who were never even charged for their crimes because of their place in society.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:34 am | Permalink

        We know a president can be compelled to turn over evidence, Nixon was required to do this. We know that they can testify – Clinton did this. Eventually it will be up to Congress to impeach or the president to walk.

        • Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:40 am | Permalink

          It isn’t just presidents who are above the law. How many Wall Streeters have even faced prosecution for what happened during the last economic crisis? You can go back to the founding of this country and all along the way you will find countless crimes committed by the wealthy and well-connected unpunished. You will also find thousands upon thousands of poor people spending much of their lives in prison for minor crimes or none at all.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        It’s a principle, Mikey, one that’s perhaps not always borne out in praxis — but a principle this nation must stand for, if it stands for anything at all.

        • Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

          I understand that, Ken. That’s why I said; “.. it has never been true in practice.” Principles are important and valuable, but if they aren’t acted upon why should I not comment it? It is the real world where principles are either observed, discarded or – in this case – often ignored and it is where they have consequences.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

            I didn’t mean to come off as critical of your response, Mikey. Sorry, if it sounded that way.

            • Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

              It did not. It was a discussion, that’s all. I thank you for it. These days they are hard to come by. Usually it’s just yelling, anger and hate. Not at WEIT, though. Which is why I’m here.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted June 5, 2018 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

                Me, too.

                I might get a bit de haut en bas about it once in a while when I get a full head of steam on, but I never mean anything personal. 🙂

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      I kind of think the pardon yourself is out. It only leads to the supreme court. Any idea that he can shut down the investigation may also be out. Recall, Mueller and crew indited a good number of Russians and is pursuing this in the courts. The fact that they cannot be dragged over here for trial is not the point. This operation continues now, even if Trump pardons Manafort, all the other players that worked for Trump and his family. He would now have to pardon about 15 Russians as well to shut it down. How will the republicans feel about that?

  16. docbill1351
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    I’ve come to the conclusion that Trump does not lie because that requires intent. Trump has no intent. He operates like a Reality Field Generator.

    Trump’s world unfolds in the moment. There is no past, no future, just the now.

    This was on full display the other day when he was talking to reporters about the giant letter given to him by North Korea. He waxed on about what a wonderful letter it was, and then a few minutes later told the same group of reporters that he hadn’t opened the letter. I think he truly forgot what he said eight minutes previously.

    Trump opens his gob and words fall out. Meaningless babble. Unfortunately for the rest of us, Trump is surrounded by a bunch of criminals all to eager to enrich themselves, and they know that if they pour words into Trump’s ear they’ll tumble out of his witless gob.

    Quite terrifying if you think about it.

  17. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    He is no longer leading America. He is leading a separate, abstracted nation made up entirely of his supporters. Beyond that white conservative bulk he’s literally not interested. The rest of the country does not figure in his thinking.

    This is how secessions begin.

  18. BJ
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    I love that Popehat humor.

    I know this is obvious, but it should be repeated over and over again: the pardon power sucks. The power to pardon others make it far too easy for the President to have others carry out criminal schemes without significant repercussions, and it allows for various types of corruption (like Clinton pardoning Mark Rich) and release of criminals for political reasons. I hate it.

    • BJ
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      Paging Ken Kukec: if the President pardons someone, I assume the pardon releases that person from all penalties associated with conviction, including fines, yes? So, if the President wanted to run a criminal conspiracy like, for example, a Madoff-type Ponzi scheme, he and his cronies could do this and then avoid all fines and attempts to take back the money. Is this correct?

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

        Now you’ve gone and mapped out the Grifter-in-Chief’s next scam for him.

        What’s next, BJ, you gonna say “Beetlejuice” three times? 🙂

    • Posted June 5, 2018 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      Some people have been put into prison FOR political reasons. They, at least, should be pardonable. There is also the question of mercy.

      Used properly it is a good and useful power. There is no chance Trump will use it for good.

      • BJ
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

        I don’t like the power it vests in the head of state, which is how I feel about the U.S. President generally. I know of no other first world democracy that gives its head of state nearly as much power as is bestowed upon a U.S. President.

        • Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

          You have three supposedly co-equal branches of government. For probably 100 years or so, Congress has slowly ceded slices of it’s power to the Executive branch. I think that if you went back to the first 75 years of the republic, the presidency was probably the weakest branch by far. But then you had wars that Congress didn’t sanction, didn’t properly oversee, and gave their power to the president in that and many other areas. Despite all the wars and military actions we have undertaken, we haven’t actually declared war the Constitutional way since 1941 that I know of.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      That’s why previous presidents have used the pardon power judiciously — with some notable exceptions (I’m lookin’ at you, Marc Rich).

      Trump may be fixin’ to go on a pardoning rampage, start handing ’em out like Altoids at a halitosis convention, to inure the nation to the idea that, when he starts giving them to his criminal confederates, ain’t no biggie.

      Though I do not believe he can pardon his way outta this mess.

  19. Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    a curiously circumscribed opinion via wingnut watering hole “free republic”:

    “Every Republican President, if forced into a judicial corner by the Democrats, has the power, the right, and the responsibility of our nation, and his freedom, to grant a Presidential Pardon to himself.” (Blue House Sue)

    • Posted June 6, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      I think this is an attempt to do more “us vs. them” stuff.

  20. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    If Trump ever comes to pardoning himself, society will need to coin a foreign-language phrase to describe.

    Self-pardoner in Latin would be
    “perdoner sui”.
    In German it would be
    Selbstentschuldigung.
    In English, we could call him an auto-pardoner.

    The main villain, fictional or real, that Trump used to most remind me of is Goldfinger from the James Bond stories, but he is starting to remind me of Caligula.

  21. nicky
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    I guess that the only thing that could shortcut some of the scary scenarios painted above is indeed a ‘Blue Tsunami’. But I’m far from confident.
    Here in S.A. we got rid of a Trump-like president, because too many in his own party thought he went way too far. It does not appear to be going to happen in the US.

  22. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Paul Manafort has now been accused of attempted witness tampering while on house arrest pending trial. Makes any potential pardon of him even more politically unpalatable. He’s likely looking at immediate detention and the likelihood of spending the rest of his days behind bars — unless he cooperates with the Mueller investigation.

    • GBJames
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      It makes a pardon more palatable, IMO. (To Trump)

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

        To Trump, sure, but I’m talking about to the rest of the nation. It’s impossible to justify a pardon to someone who is currently in the process of obstructing justice by tampering with foreign witnesses, even while he is on bond pending trial for a host of other crimes committed with foreign nationals tied to Russia.

        Anyway, even if Trump were to pardon Manafort, I suspect Manafort would face indictment on charges in Virginia or New York state courts.

  23. Posted June 5, 2018 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Beware. ‘Absolute right’?! Your Swiffer in Chief is glomming on to language that reveals his mindset. You’ve got an autocrat in the making. Waste no time to curb his powers.

    • darrelle
      Posted June 6, 2018 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      Absolutely. Thing is, this was obvious from the start. Yet here we are.

  24. Diane G
    Posted June 6, 2018 at 2:13 am | Permalink

    sub

  25. Posted June 10, 2018 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    “If Trump has the “absolute right to PARDON himself,” then that applies for any crime. Couldn’t he kill Robert Mueller and then pardon himself for murder?”

    PCC, please don’t give Trump more ideas!


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