At this point we all instinctively know that the indictment phase of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Donald Trump’s Russia scandal is not too far off. We have further confirmation of this because Mueller’s team has informed one of the players in the scandal that he’s going to be indicted. At this point the big questions are how those indictments will come down, and who will get hit with them first.
One take on the indictment cycle comes from Jon Cooper, the chairman of the Democratic Coalition. Here’s his take: “My prediction is that Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr, and Donald Trump will ALL be indicted in Mueller’s probe” (link). The first two names on the list don’t come as a shock to anyone. Manafort has been told he’s going to be indicted, and there’s a grand jury out on Flynn. The other three names would send shockwaves, for different reasons.
If Mueller goes so far as to indict Donald Trump’s son and son-in-law, he’ll be cutting straight into the belly of Trump’s presidency. Trump will face a no-win situation either way. If he begins trying to pardon his own family members, his presidency will instantly be finished in political terms – and it’s not even clear that such pardons would stand up in court. If he doesn’t pardon them, he’ll have to sit back as they’re carved up by the legal system, even as the media treats it as the scandal of the century. But that’s nothing compared to the final name on the list: Trump’s own.
It’s never been constitutionally established whether or not a sitting president can be indicted, because it’s never been tried (Richard Nixon was named as an unindicted co-conspirator as he was being shoved out the door). Several legal scholars have argued that Mueller can indict Trump, while some believe that he can try Trump directly in a court of law, rather than having to let Congress handle the indictment. Some of those same scholars believe Trump cannot legally pardon himself.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report