The Washington Post reported late on Thursday, July 20, that unnamed sources had indicated that Donald Trump had inquired of his lawyers the extent of his power to pardon criminals. Typically, the sources remain anonymous and thus it is difficult to establish how true the accounts of Trump considering pardoning himself, family members and himself are. However, Donald Trump has given legs to the issue by his own comments through Twitter. Therefore, we need to discuss the issue of pardoning by Trump.
What we know is that there may have been discussions about the authority to pardon for criminality within Donald Trump’s legal team and possibly, Trump himself. On Saturday morning Donald Trump tweeted that he had “complete power” to issue pardons. The Trump administration has previously established that Trump tweets are official statements. In the barrage of tweets, Trump did not argue that there have been no discussions between himself and his legal team about pardons. Instead, Trump’s tweets seem to collaborate the Washington Post report from anonymous sources.
The Washington Post updated its story on Sunday by adding that Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s attorney, has stated that the legal team is “not researching” the question of whether Trump can pardon himself “because it is not an issue.” Sekulow’s comments did not deny pardon discussions for family and friends.
At this point we must assume that discussions about presidential pardons have been had within Donald Trump’s inner circles. Trump himself gives credence to the assumption through his tweet barrage.
Assuming this, there one very important thing to keep in mind:
Pardons are for criminals only.
Donald Trump and surrogates argue that the Russians scandal is a “witch hunt”.
Whether you agree or not, it is important to remember that discussions of pardons show a concern for wrongdoing within the White House.
That should concern all U.S. citizens.