I am surprised and even somewhat disappointed in how little faith many fellow liberals demonstrate in our political system. More surprising is how many of them tend to foster these “Chicken Little” feelings of “Constitutional Crisis” despite not knowing how the system even works.
Might Donald Trump pardon himself? He might TRY to do so. There is nothing stopping him from trying to. However, he probably won’t get away with it. It all depends on who’s running Congress when he tries. Here is what the Constitution says about the pardon power:
“(The president) shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” (Emphasis added)
If he’s being impeached, it would seem that he would not be able to pardon anyone in relation to that. He can possibly keep them out of jail, but he can’t keep them from being called in his impeachment. There is also another element of this, in that the person accepting the pardon is essentially admitting guilt. Also, it takes away the one weapon Trump might have in getting them to not testify against him, since the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination wouldn’t apply. As for pardoning himself, it’s pretty unlikely he could, but as a failsafe, there has been a parallel investigation happening in the State of New York, and he can’t pardon anyone in that.
In short, Trump believes he can pardon anyone, including himself, so many professional lefties have gone into full “hair-on-fire” mode, imagining hints going on here that, quite literally, cannot happen here. Trump can’t use the military to go after anyone because, in their infinite wisdom, the Founders didn’t want a standing army, and when they acquiesced and created on, they made it a civilian military, which means the President, no matter how stupid, can’t use them to take out political enemies. Look at how most dictatorships start, and a key component is the ability of the dictator to wield military power against the internal enemy; in this case the Democratic Party.
Then there’s the whole “checks and balances” thing. Our government has three co-equal branches of government. Right now, the Republican Party has fallen down on its job of oversight of the executive branch, but we can fix that in about a half year, when we elect everyone at every level. The only glitch might be the US Senate, since only eight Republican seats are up for election, but if we do our job right, we can end up doing some damage even there. If impeachment goes to trial, that will happen in the Senate and it we wipe them out in the election, we could conceivably scare the dozen or so Republicans we need to convict sufficiently to get a conviction.
In any case, there is no way for Lord Donny to become a dictator. He can try to be authoritarian, and he has, but I would point you to the number of times he’s tried that and been destroyed in the process. He thought he could ban Muslims, remember? Well, guess how that worked out. He thinks he can ban brown people from our borders, which also hasn’t worked out the way he wanted. There are still laws on the books preventing him from taking too much power, and outside of a compliant GOP-run Congress, he hasn’t been able to get away with too much.
In other words, he can WANT to take a lot of extra power if he wants, but the reality is, he can’t ACTUALLY take a lot of extra power. Trump can want to be a tiger and he can even roar like one, but it doesn’t make him a tiger. There is nothing in our legal structure that would allow him to actually become an autocrat. For all their faults, Republicans drew the line at granting presidents too much power because they knew Reagan would be replaced by a Democrat at some point. Even now, they know Trump will be replaced.
This will end in resignation, and it will end quickly when it does. One thing we know about Donny Dimwit is that he knows he’s in over his head. He also believes in the power of his own name too much to allow anything like an impeachment or indictment tarnish it. Look at his Twitter feed; he hasn’t done shit in 16 months, but he happily takes credit for every good economic number he can find. That’s because he can’t stand looking bad. And while he’s a moron, he also knows he won’t get good press, even from Fox News, if he is shown having to fight off criminal charges or impeachment for a year or more. Oh, sure, he may think his approval ratings will soar, a la Clinton, if he’s impeached, but times have changed, and every brewing story about him will appear out of the woodwork.
Donny is, at heart, a coward. He’s never faced a fight in his life; he’s always run away. And he will do so this time. When Democrats take over the House on January 3, 2019, they will draft articles of impeachment and they will pass. For a month, Republicans in the Senate (hopefully a minority) will cry and whine, but even if they maintain their slim majority, they can’t ignore articles of impeachment. They have to consider them and they have to schedule a trial. They will also have to make all evidence public and the voting public will know everything there is to know about Donald Trump. At the same time, the Stormy Daniels case will be heating up and at least one of the women who have accused him of assault will get a hearing and that will be on the table, as well. There will also be a serious investigation of his emoluments violations. He will also see the value of his properties drop like a rock; who the hell wants to pay a $200,000 membership fee to a golf club owned by a criminal? For that matter, why would anyone want to buy a condo in a building plastered with the name of the most notorious politician in history, especially when the Russian mob declares they want revenge?
If you think career criminal Donald Trump will withstand all that without caving, you haven’t been paying attention. This is a man who has been getting away with criminal behavior all his life because he was able to do everything in private and he was able to avoid scrutiny. He is now “presidentin’,” which means he can no longer even take a shit without everyone knowing that’s where he Tweets from. I predict the pressure will overwhelm him and he will either have a cardiac event, a stroke or he will just quit and go home and sulk. One way or another, he will never become a dictator and he will eventually be gone.
Also published on Medium.