Ever since Donald Trump officially and decisively lost the election a couple weeks ago, Palmer Report has been urging everyone to pay less attention to his dead-end attempts at magically overturning the result, and instead pay more attention to his corrupt endgame. We warned you that Trump would end up pardoning his co-conspirators on his way out the door. Well, now it’s happening.
Axios is now reporting that Trump is telling people he’s about to pardon Michael Flynn. This isn’t a surprise. Trump has long treated Flynn like a made man, going to absurd and desperate lengths to try to keep him out of prison. Axios also says that Trump is planning to pardon a whole lot more people after Flynn. But keep in mind that these pardons aren’t magic wands.
For instance, because Michael Flynn cut a cooperating plea deal on a lesser charge, he managed to avoid being charged for some of the more serious things he was being investigated for, including allegedly taking illegal money from foreign governments, and allegedly conspiring to kidnap a guy in Pennsylvania. So even if Trump pardons Flynn on his existing charges, the post-Trump DOJ can simply charge Flynn with the rest of the crimes.
In addition, it’s not necessarily constitutional to pardon your own alleged criminal co-conspirators; the DOJ could easily refile the charges against these people after Trump is gone, and let the courts decide whether the pardons should stand. Also, Trump’s pardoned associates will no longer face federal criminal jeopardy, meaning the Fifth Amendment will no longer apply, meaning they could then be legally forced to cooperate with the criminal investigations into Trump himself.
Finally, anyone who gets a federal pardon from Donald Trump still has to worry about potentially facing state level charges, depending on which state they live in, and which state(s) they operated out of. So even as Trump continues to roll out his endgame pardons, keep in mind that they’re not magic wands. They’re just the only thing that Trump has left to try.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report