Roger Stone is now making increasingly high stakes Trump-Russia assertions left and right, and as we’ve tried to explain, he’s not exactly what you’d call a reliable narrator. One of Stone’s new claims, which he hasn’t supported with any evidence, is that Donald Trump Jr is about to be indicted. Again, Stone is pathological liar. But some readers have asked what will happen if Trump Jr is indeed indicted. Here’s the answer.
There are two distinct scenarios here: federal charges and non-federal charges. Special Counsel Robert Mueller made a point of farming out the federal investigation into Michael Cohen to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, seemingly to ensure that Donald Trump couldn’t make the case go away by trying to fire Mueller. If Mueller is indeed going after Donald Trump Jr, he would seemingly farm the case out to SDNY once again.
Trump would once again have a hard time firing his way out of this, and his only option would be to preemptively pardon Trump Jr. However, as we’ve spent all year explaining, Trump cannot magically pardon his way out of this. There would likely be a court battle over whether Trump can pardon an alleged co-conspirator. Even if Trump succeeded and Junior was facing no remaining criminal jeopardy, he would then be required to testify against his father, and he could be arrested if he refuses to do so. In addition, state level charges cannot be pardoned.
That brings us to the second scenario. If the New York Attorney General or the Manhattan District Attorney brings an indictment against Donald Trump Jr, there would be nothing Donald Trump could do to stop that from proceeding. His only card left to play would be to offer to resign in exchange for his son getting immunity. It’s not clear if he would be willing to go that route, and if prosecutors would even take him up on such a deal. Short of that, a non-federal indictment of Donald Trump Jr would result in his arrest and trial.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report