Entering the final weeks of his term, President Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani have discussed the granting of a “pre-emptive” pardon to the former NYC mayor, who for several years has served as his personal attorney. While it’s unclear what the possible pardon might cover, Giuliani has been under federal investigation. It’s unknown if his current actions in attempting to overturn the U.S. election could be subject to legal action.
“President Trump’s lawyer who has led the most extensive efforts to damage his client’s political rivals and undermine the election results,” The New York Times reports, “discussed with the president as recently as last week the possibility of receiving a pre-emptive pardon before Mr. Trump leaves office, according to two people told of the discussion.”
While a pre-emptive pardon is rare, the Times notes President Gerald Ford pardoned former President Richard Nixon for all his actions taken as president.
This is a breaking news and developing story.
Image: Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian via Flickr
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Sen. Hawley Claims ‘Election Integrity’ Issues: ‘I Cannot Vote to Certify’ Electoral College Results
Trump Signals for Pence to Hand Him the Presidency and Overrule Electoral College
President Donald Trump has sent strong signals that he expects Vice President Mike Pence to hand him re-election when Congress meets Jan. 6 to count Electoral College votes.
The vice president will preside over that joint session, and Trump and some of his Republican congressional allies are leaning heavily on Pence to change the outcome of the Nov. 3 election won by Democrat Joe Biden, but legal experts Neal Katyal and John Monsky wrote a New York Times column explaining that his authority in that process is fairly limited.
“Nothing in either the text of the Constitution or the Electoral Count Act gives the vice president any substantive powers,” the pair wrote. “His powers are ministerial, and that circumscribed role makes general sense: The whole point of an election is to let the people decide who will rule them. If an incumbent could simply maneuver to keep himself in office — after all, a maneuver to protect Mr. Trump also protects Mr. Pence — the most foundational precept of our government would be gravely undermined. In America, ‘we the people,’ not ‘we, the vice president,’ control our destiny.”
Both Article II of the Constitution and the 12th Amendment say that the votes of the Electoral College are to be opened by the “president of the Senate,” meaning the vice president. The Electoral Count Act, passed in 1887 to avoid chaotic counts like the one that followed the 1876 election, adds important details. It provides a detailed timeline to tabulate electoral votes, culminating with the final count to take place on Jan. 6, and it delineates the powers of the vice president.
“They guarded against any pretense he might have to throw out a particular state’s votes, saying that the vice president must open ‘all certificates and papers purporting to be‘ electoral votes,” Katyal and Monsky wrote. “They further said, in the event of a dispute, both chambers of Congress would have to disagree with a particular state’s slate of electoral votes to reject them. And they made it difficult for Congress to disagree, adding measures such as a ‘safe harbor’ provision and deference to certification by state officials.”
All of the president’s legal challenges have lost, and the results have been certified by the states and electors have duly cast their ballots, so there’s nothing Trump or Pence can do to stop their re-election loss under the rules spelled out in the Constitution and the Electoral Count Act.
“[Pence] now stands on the edge of history as he begins his most consequential act of leadership,” Katyal and Monsky wrote. “The question for Vice President Pence, as well as other members of Congress, is which side of history he wants to come down on. Can he show the integrity demonstrated by every previous presidential administration? The American people accept a graceful loser, but a sore loser never goes down well in the history books.”
“Like all those that have come before him, [Pence] should count the votes as they have been certified and do everything he can to oppose those who would do otherwise,” they added. “This is no time for anyone to be a bystander — our Republic is on the line.”
Stone and Manafort Pardons: Trump ‘Could Be Prosecuted for Bribery’
Appearing on CNN Thursday, New York University School of Law professor Ryan Goodman outlined how Trump’s pardons could open him up to criminal prosecution for his obstruction of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2020 presidential election.
In particular, Goodman outlined how Mueller’s final report outlined an obstruction case based around communications between the president’s lawyers and Manafort indicating that the president would pardon his former campaign chairman if he refused to cooperate with the special counsel’s probe.
“The Mueller report specifically says that Manafort told his deputy, Rick Gates, that Manafort had spoken with Trump’s personal attorney, and it would be stupid to plea and they should sit tight, because, quote, ‘We’ll be taken care of,'” Goodman explained. “The Mueller team concludes that this met all of the elements and did succeed in Manafort failing to cooperate and maintaining his silence.”
Goodman also explained that while the Constitution gives the president broad powers to pardon people, he could still be prosecuted for it if that pardon was used as a reward for obstructing justice.
“If a pardon is part of a crime, then most experts would agree that, in fact, the president could be criminally prosecuted for it,” he said. “Just imagine a president exchanged a pardon for a bribe. Well, most experts agree that the president could then be prosecuted for bribery.”
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