For the past four years Palmer Report has been pointing out that pardons aren’t magic wands, and that Trump would run into a number of tricky scenarios if he tried pardoning his own co-conspirators or pardoning people preemptively. Sure enough, that’s now playing out.
Andrew Weissman, who helped bring the original criminal charges against Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, and Roger Stone, now says that Trump’s pardons of Manafort and Stone leave the door wide open for additional federal criminal charges to be brought against them. He also adds that Steve Bannon’s pardon leaves the door open for additional federal charges against him.
Remarkably, this isn’t even due to the state charges that can be brought separately, or due to potential legal challenges to preemptive pardons or co-conspirator pardons. Weissman says that these pardons are simply written poorly and don’t cover much. He contrasts this with the Flynn pardon, which he says protects Flynn more broadly.
Here’s what we find interesting. Flynn’s pardon was granted back in December, when Bill Barr was still on the job and White House Counsel Pat Cippollone was still in Trump’s corner. These other, more poorly written pardons were issued in late January, by which time Barr had quit and Cippollone was reportedly on the outs. In other words, Trump may have had no competent henchmen left to write those last minute pardons.
Here at Palmer Report, we expect Manafort, Stone, Bannon, and Flynn to end up in prison. They all committed documented crimes beyond what they were charged with, meaning more charges can be brought. And because they’re creatures of habit, they’re likely out committing even more crimes as we speak. Flynn’s pardon may be the strongest, but his culpability in the U.S. Capitol attack keeps looking dicier. And state charges can take all of them down anyway.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report