Donald Trump began the day by leaking that he was going to pardon a bunch of people. Then as the day went on he had Rudy Giuliani come to the White House for a meeting that seemed to be about pardons. At one point Trump announced a last minute press event, but then immediately canceled it. So what was all that back there?
As Palmer Report often likes to point out, Trump has a fairly consistent pattern of behavior. When he leaks that he’s about to do something dastardly, he usually doesn’t go through with it; he’s just fantasizing out loud about what he’d like to get away with doing. And when Trump really is doing something dastardly, he rarely announces it in advance, instead preferring to do it in secret or spring it out of nowhere.
So it perhaps wasn’t shocking that Trump’s big pardon buildup on Friday didn’t go anywhere. That said, Trump is surely going to end up pardoning people on his way out the door. So why did he call it off on Friday? Maybe he didn’t call it off, and Rudy really did help him draft a bunch of pardons, and he decided to hold off on announcing them. If this is the case, we can’t wait to see how cluelessly Rudy crafted these pardons.
Or maybe Donald Trump got spooked by the bombshell about Kushner helping steer half a billion dollars in campaign money into the shell company run by Lara Trump and Mike Pence’s nephew. Is it really a good idea to pardon your family on the day your family gets busted for yet another crime?
In any case, this is the latest reminder that Trump truly doesn’t have any magic wands up his sleeve. If he did, the last days of his failed presidency wouldn’t be playing out in such scattered, ineffective, and tepid fashion. Preemptive pardons of co-conspirators are particularly tricky to try to figure out how to do, without creating additional headaches in the process. It’s just that pardons are all Trump has left to try.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report