With it now clear that Donald Trump lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden, the administration has entered a new phase, according to ABC News, and is considering who might need a presidential pardon to shield them from crimes they may have committed:
“Multiple sources tell ABC News that various Trump allies and other lawyers have begun a campaign to petition the West Wing in hopes of securing pardons for those who might receive a sympathetic reception from the president.”
At the top of the list are the president’s three eldest children, Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric, all of who are also top officials with the Trump Organization:
“One idea that has been floated among Trump allies is the possibility of preemptive pardons for members of the Trump family and close allies of the president.
“It’s not clear how this kind of preemptive pardon would work, given that no member of the Trump family has been accused of a federal crime. However sources pushing for this action say the argument is an ‘insurance policy’ against concerns that the incoming Biden administration could undertake politically motivated investigations. As evidence, sources point to investigations currently being pursued by New York State Attorney General Letitia James and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, both of whom are Democrats.”
There’s also some gigantic problems with preemptive pardons.
First of all, such a pardon can be seen as an admission of guilt on the part of the Trump children.
Secondly, a presidential pardon would only cover federal crimes the family may have committed. They would be worthless in shielding anyone from prosecution in a state such as New York.
Additionally, while a president has sweeping pardon powers, a preemptive pardon for crimes that aren’t clear or specified can be “tricky,” according to Duke law professor H. Jefferson Powell, who previously served in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel:
“There is no entire get out of jail free card.”
It’s also believed that Trump may try to issue a self-pardon for his crimes, but since such an action has never been litigated, it remains unclear if such a move would pass legal muster.
For now, it’s safe to expect a pardon for members of the president’s family, even though those pardons won’t protect them from the biggest legal threat they face: Prosecutors in the Empire State. So while Donald Trump may be ready to hand out pardons by the bushel, they won’t save him or his children from having to answer for their crime spree.