Why does US President Trump want pre-emptive pardons for himself and family?

New Delhi, IndiaEdited By: Gravitas deskUpdated: Dec 03, 2020, 09:30 AM IST
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Incumbent US President Donald Trump has a few weeks left in the White House, and now he wants to save his allies and children from prosecution

Incumbent US President Donald Trump has a few weeks left in the White House, and now he wants to save his allies and children from prosecution. Once they leave the White House, Trump and his inner circle could be sued. Until Trump holds office, he is immune to any legal action.

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Reportedly, Donald Trump is considering a way to keep his kids and allies safe from prosecution. Trump has discussed with his advisers whether he could fetch pre-emptive pardons to protect his three eldest children - Donald Trump Junior, Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump along with his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Why is Trump mulling that?

Reportedly, Trump is concerned that the US Justice Department might prosecute his inner circle. Donald Trump Junior has been under investigation for his contacts with Russians during the 2016 election campaign.

Jared Kushner faces the charge of lying to federal authorities about his contacts with foreigners. There are no clear charges against Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump or Rudy Giuliani yet. But the legal scrutiny against team Trump is tightening.

The US Justice Department has opened an investigation into an alleged "bribery for pardon" scheme at the White House. Allegedly, during Trump's tenure an individual offered a substantial political donation in exchange for a presidential pardon. The court filings are heavily redacted and nobody knows if Donald Trump or any members of his inner circle are named in this case. Donald Trump called the official investigation fake news.

A presidential pardon is an action by a sitting president to completely set aside the punishment for a federal crime. Pardons that pre-empt criminal charges are not common. Perhaps the most famous example of one is when Gerald Ford gave a pardon to Richard Nixon.

Ford succeeded Nixon when he was forced to leave office after the “watergate” scandal. After taking over, Ford gave a full and unconditional pardon to Nixon for any crimes that he might have committed against the United States as president. Donald Trump claims he can pardon myself. No one has done it before, which is why the move is bound to trigger a legal challenge.

Setbacks continue

US Attorney general William Barr has now said that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of this year's election. American attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up on specific complaints, but have been unable to find any evidence to substantiate Trump’s claims.

“This is incredibly significant for the attorney general to come out and say there is no widespread voter fraud that would impact the outcome of the election. It you know, directly contradicts what we've heard from the president and his allies who have alleged that there is such fraud. But the attorney general was very clear here. The justice department had investigated specific instances where, you know, allegations had been made. They've looked into these claims and they've determined there was no evidence of widespread fraud”, Michael Balsamo, Associated Press’ Justice Department reporter said.

Despite that, the Trump campaign has moved the American supreme court, and a petition challenging the results from Wisconsin has been filed. As Biden prepares for his inauguration, it looks like Trump is unwilling to go down without a fight.