For years, numerous TV pundits have been trying to convince us all that any moment now, Donald Trump is going to pardon all of his co-conspirators and then somehow use this as a springboard for magically getting reelected. Of course these pundits have been wrong for three years running, because Trump still has yet to pardon any of his co-conspirators.
Along the way, the media has uncovered scattered evidence that Donald Trump has dangled pardons at people like Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn. But these pardons clearly never happened, and thus Trump was merely trying to create the illusion that he’d set them free if they remained loyal to him. Some of these folks are still naively sticking with Trump. But it turns out Julian Assange, who was also falsely promised a pardon in return for silence, is calling Trump’s bluff.
Did Trump really think that after he pardoned his rich buddies yesterday, and didn’t pardon his own co-conspirators as promised, none of them were going to catch on? It’s not just that Trump has yet another scandal on his hands today, thanks to Assange opening his mouth. It’s that Trump’s other co-conspirators are surely hearing what Assange is saying, and wondering what happened to their own promised pardons. Trump’s shell games have always had a shelf life – and now that his pardon con game is coming back to bite him, he can’t simply declare bankruptcy on it.
If you’re a Palmer Report reader, you know that pardons aren’t magic wands, at least as they apply to your own co-conspirators. Donald Trump never has pardoned the people who have committed crimes on his behalf, because it would set off a legal battle over the scope of pardon power, and it could result in Trump getting blocked from being able to pardon himself and his kids on his way out the door. Many of Trump’s co-conspirators would go to prison on state charges anyway. The ones who don’t face state charges will therefore have no criminal liability, and therefore no Fifth Amendment protections, and will thus be required to testify against Trump at his criminal trial after he loses the election. Pardons simply do not work the way they’re being described on television.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report