The shoe, as they say, is now on the other foot. While holding a quick press gaggle before boarding Marine One, President Biden was asked by a reporter whether he’d heard that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has said he’d pardon the disgraced ex-president Donald Trump. “Where are you on the idea of pardoning Trump?” the reporter concluded. The President chuckled, held up his hand to wave goodbye, spun on his heels and headed for the helicopter.
It was an eloquent gesture. It also was a scenario of supreme irony, one to be savoured and examined. One recalls situations in the scandal-blighted past when a thing like Donald Trump actually contaminated, befouled and tarnished the sacred people’s house for one brief darkening moment.
Shake your heads and recall, brothers and sisters, the many disgraceful and disgusting things Trump uttered in that very place on his way to a hijacked helicopter. It was the very lawn where he repeated the gaslighting lie “no collusion no obstruction” about the Mueller Report, after 10 instances of obstruction of justice and criminal conspiracy had been alleged against him in that very report. It was the spot where he defamed and endangered numerous innocent Americans by name. It was where he proclaimed that the 2020 election had been “rigged.” It was where he absurdly suggested he was the “chosen one.” No more, no more.
The real President doing a real job for the actual American people had no time for such nonsense. Besides, it’s a question he already answered, and Joe Biden doesn’t like to repeat himself.
The answer came during his campaign for president in 2020. Mr Biden was asked if he’d commit to NOT following the example of the late Gerald Ford, who famously awarded his disgraced predecessor, “a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon.” The then-former Vice President replied: “Absolutely, yes. I commit.” And that, ladies and gentlemen, was that.
Biden added that the question of whether or not to prosecute Trump was “hands-off completely” because, in his view, the attorney general of the United States is “the people’s lawyer” and not “the president’s lawyer.” The President, who unlike Trump is a man of actual character, has stuck to his word.
The President has steadfastly done what Donald Trump could never have done. He’s stayed the hell out of it. He’s avoided comment, editorial or suggestions about the many ongoing prosecutions of Donald Trump. The President is also an avid golf player but he’s stayed off the links, too. Unlike Trump, who never really gave a shit about the job and spent perhaps a quarter of his benighted presidency on various golf courses, Joe Biden has a country to run.
Donald Trump, who is a peevish, whining, weakling, could never have done that. We all know he would have been full of gleeful comment if, say, Hillary Clinton had been facing numerous prosecutions from myriad sources. It’s another of the many differences between the two men. The President understands his job, Trump never did.
In any case, no one in the office of the presidency, whoever that may be, can pardon Trump for state crimes. So far, his criminal indictments in New York and the apparent indictment coming from Georgia beginning the second week of August will be untouchable by presidential pardon. Both are state prosecutions, not federal prosecutions.
So Trump can forget about getting pardoned. If in some alternate, dark reality, he should only be successfully indicted at the federal level and Ron DeSantis should become president, Trump can probably forget about a pardon from him. DiSantis hates Trump. The only chance Trump has is to become president and pardon himself. And good luck with that, especially if Donald Trump is in prison. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.