Tuesday, November 17, 2020


Michael Conway, a Nixon-era counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, believes that Joe Biden should issue a presidential pardon to Donald Trump (something that Biden has pledged he won't do).
Trump would, of course, be one of the least deserving recipients of a federal pardon in history. His pardon could not be justified based on his innocence or his contrition because Trump is not contrite; to the contrary, he is currently endangering our democratic processes by relentlessly undermining the legitimacy of Biden’s election and thwarting a peaceful transition....

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few good reasons to consider it anyway.
Such as?
First and foremost, Trump’s acceptance of a pardon — under the 1915 Supreme Court opinion in Burdick v United States — is an admission that he was guilty of the crimes for which he has been pardoned. Pardoning him may be the only way that Trump even implicitly concedes he did anything wrong.
But Trump won't admit that. He'll pocket the pardon and insist he acknowledged nothing. Who are his followers going to believe? Every respectable reporter and constitutional scholar in America? Or Trump and a succession of hacks insisting on Fox, OANN, and Newsmax that Trump admitted nothing?

Or there might be the opposite reaction:

Or both! Trumpers don't have much use for consistency.

What else?
... a federal pardon wouldn’t eliminate all of Trump’s potential criminal exposure. The Supreme Court last year declined to overrule long-standing precedent which allows parallel state and federal prosecutions based upon the same facts.

So, a presidential pardon would not bar Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance from investigating and potentially prosecuting Trump and his company for crimes under state law....

Accepting a federal pardon — especially a pardon for crimes violating both federal and state laws — would be a double-edged sword for the president. And whatever the result of any state investigation or prosecution, it could not be laid at Biden’s doorstep. It would not be his appointees investigating the former president, his recent political adversary; it would not be his employees prosecuting him.
Do you think that will mollify Trump or his supporters? They already believe that all Democrats are part of a vast Deep State conspiracy. They'll say Biden should demand that Vance stand down. They'll argue that the pardon was just a ruse to keep Biden's fingerprints off the "phony witch hunt" (which you know is how they'll describe any state prosecution of Trump).
A Biden pardon of Trump, like [Gerald Ford's] pardoning of former President Richard Nixon 46 years ago, would be intended to heal the nation and foreclose the possibility of an ongoing cycle of retribution after political parties change control of the government.
But that possibility won't be foreclosed. It won't prevent any house of Congress run by Republicans from devoting itself to non-stop investigations of Hunter Biden and alleged 2020 electoral irregularities. And it won't prevent Trump from saying, "Biden did this because he knows I did nothing wrong. But I know he and his family are guilty of tremendous crimes, and I'll prosecute those crimes very strongly after I beat him in 2024."

Trump and his supporters will say that's precisely why the pardon was issued: because Biden is afraid of being prosecuted himself, or afraid his son will be prosecuted.

In any case, a pardon won't lead to healing. And it will infuriate millions of anti-Trump voters. So what's the point?

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