Hannity: Trump should pardon his whole family — and himself

Trump

He said this to Sidney Powell, who sounded appropriately hesitant about whether the president can pardon himself.

Think about that. Hannity’s guest was the lawyer who just accused Hugo Chavez of having played an indirect role in rigging America’s election and he floated a legal scenario so dubious that even she was like, “Yeah, not sure about that one, buddy.”

I hope Trump does it. I’m dying, dying, dying to see how SCOTUS would handle the question of whether the president can hand himself a get-out-of-jail-free card. On the one hand, no man can be a judge in his own case. (Although a pardon isn’t a “judgment.”) On the other hand, only a fool would bet against the executive in front of a conservative Court when a core Article II power is at issue.

Mainly, though, I want Trump to do it because I want to see what sort of tortured moral arguments are fashioned to support the idea that the president has the authority to render himself above the law. Listen, then read on.

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Maybe it’ll become a presidential rite of passage. Instead of the now-traditional personal note written on Inauguration Day to welcome one’s successor (a tradition that’ll surely be skipped this year), the outgoing chief executive could write himself a pardon for any crimes he might have committed before — or during — his presidency.

Wouldn’t the Founders be proud.

A Trump self-pardon is obviously the big one that everyone’s watching for before January 20 but I have my eye on this one too. There’s no reason for him to do it apart from the media sensation it would cause, which is why he’ll almost certainly end up doing it:

Others seeking creative ways to forge ties to the president include Joseph Maldonado-Passage, the former Oklahoma zoo owner who is better known as Joe Exotic. His representatives have been running a carefully orchestrated campaign to try to persuade Mr. Trump to pardon Mr. Maldonado-Passage, who is one year into a 22-year sentence for trying to hire a hit man to kill an animal-rights activist.

They have focused on getting Mr. Trump’s attention through appeals to Donald Trump Jr. and Mr. Kushner, appearances on Fox News and a visit to the Trump International Hotel in Washington where, one organizer said, they ran up a tab of about $10,000 to try to get Mr. Trump’s attention.

Nothing would say “law and order” like springing a guy doing 20+ years on a murder-for-hire rap after a bribe was laundered through a real estate property to grease the wheels.

Although … why didn’t they just hand Trump a check for $10,000 instead? He could have pardoned them and himself afterward to avoid bribery charges, at least according to Hannity’s logic.

Read this not terribly persuasive piece published last week at the Atlantic claiming that the “original” understanding of the pardon power wouldn’t allow the president to pardon himself. Why not? Because the Constitution says the president has the power to grant pardons and, according to legal dictionaries and such around the time of the Founding, a “grant” of something always involved a grantor and a grantee — two people, not one. That’s the sort of thing that might end up in a majority SCOTUS opinion as part of the case for why Trump can’t pardon himself but it won’t be the crux of the argument. Think of it as originalist window dressing, potentially, for the moral argument that of course it’s insane to think a constitutional officer like the president could absolve himself of crimes, including constitutional crimes, via a vestige of royal prerogative. If the Constitution is the supreme law of the land then self-pardons are a nonstarter. We’ll see what Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett have to say.

Update: In case it wasn’t clear from the clip, this interview was conducted on Hannity’s radio show, not on Fox News.

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