When it comes to Trump-Russia, the story is not about Donald Trump pardoning his underlings and getting away with it all; that’s a fantasy so delusional that even Trump himself doesn’t seem to buy it. The story here is that Trump has been trying to con his most desperate and naive underlings into believing he’s going to magically save them with pardons. Unfortunately for Trump, Rudy Giuliani just gave away the game.
Each time yet another one of Donald Trump’s underlings gets arrested or prepares to cut a plea deal, the mainstream media – particularly cable news – begins pushing the notion that Trump is on the verge of simply pardoning that person in order to keep them quiet. Of course it never, ever happens. As Palmer Report has had to explain one too many times, nothing works that way.
Trump probably can’t pardon his co-conspirators on federal charges. He definitely can’t pardon anyone on state charges. And if his underlings did somehow find themselves no longer facing any criminal jeopardy, they’d be required to testify against him. Nonetheless, Trump periodically decides to pardon random people who have nothing to do with Trump-Russia, in the hope of conning his own advisers into believing they’ll eventually get pardoned too. Rudy Giuliani, who can’t keep a secret, gave an interview yesterday and claimed that Trump is actually planning to pardon all of his own people after the whole scandal is over. Oops.
The “oops” here isn’t simply that Rudy tried to convince Paul Manafort not to testify against Donald Trump by publicly taunting him with a pardon, which was a felony attempt at obstruction of justice on Rudy’s part. The real “oops” is that Giuliani just gave away the specific line of horse crap that Trump has been feeding his underlings privately: the pardons will magically come way down the road. Yeah, right. By that time, Trump will be on the verge of ouster, and if he does try any last minute pardon stunts; he’ll reserve it for himself and his family. Those attempted pardons will almost certainly be struck down as well, but if he’s going to try them at all, he’s not going to waste them on his underlings.
Michael Flynn and Rick Gates have already figured out that there’s no pardon magic wand, which is why they cut plea deals. Michael Cohen appears to have figured it out as well, which is why he’s reportedly working on a plea deal. But what about Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and others? After he let the cat out of the bag, Rudy Giuliani had to give yet another interview today, where he admitted that there are no pardons coming. Surely, Stone and Manafort were watching. That is, if Manafort has CNN in jail.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report