United States President Donald Trump is reportedly planning to grant himself and members of his family a presidential pardon as his tenure runs out on January 20.
A New York Times report on Friday that Trump had suggested to aides he wants to pardon himself, family members and close aides in the final days of his presidency.
The news comes as Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike rebuked the president’s conduct during pro-Trump extremist riots which targeted the Capitol during the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 elections on Wednesday.
Democrats have already called for the president to face immediate repercussions, with Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer and House Majority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, both calling for the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment while threatening a second impeachment process.
According to White House sources, two people with knowledge of the discussions suggest that such a move would mark one of the most extraordinary and untested uses of presidential powers in American history.
“In several conversations since Election Day, Mr Trump has told advisers that he is considering giving himself a pardon and, in other instances, asked whether he should and what the effect would be on him legally and politically,” one of the sources said.
Another source said:
“Trump has shown signs that his level of interest in pardoning himself goes beyond idle musings. He has long maintained he has the power to pardon himself, and his polling of aides’ views is typically a sign that he is preparing to follow through on his aims. He has also become increasingly convinced that his perceived enemies will use the levers of law enforcement to target him after he leaves office.
“Mr. Trump has considered a range of pre-emptive pardons for family, including his three oldest children, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, for Ms. Trump’s husband, the senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, and for close associates like the president’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani. The president has expressed concerns to advisers that a Biden Justice Department might investigate all of them.”
The discussions between Trump and his aides about a self-pardon came before his pressure over the weekend on Georgia officials to help him try to overturn the election results or his incitement of the riots at the Capitol.
Trump allies believe that both episodes increased Trump’s criminal exposure, and more potential problems emerged for the president on Thursday when the Justice Department said it would not rule out pursuing charges against him over his role in inciting Wednesday’s violence.
However, a top federal prosecutor in Washington, Michael R. Sherwin, said that in the history of American politics, “no president has pardoned himself, so the legitimacy of prospective self-clemency has never been tested in the justice system.
“We are looking at all actors, not only the people who went into the building,” Sherwin said.
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