Trump pardoned ex-felon Dinesh D’Souza on Thursday, and that move has left some people wondering if his recent pardons are a signal to colleagues who are involved in the Russia investigation to stay loyal to Trump. In other words, if they do not cooperate with federal prosecutors and face legal jeopardy, Trump is signaling that he may pardon them.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow broke it down and said if Trump’s pardons are indeed a signal to people like his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to stay loyal and not flip, the president is flirting with serious legal consequences.
Maddow explained that presidents don’t have blanket power to pardon anyone for any reason; and she specified that presidents cannot use that power to obstruct investigations that involve them personally.
She said, “Yesterday, we found out that the prosecution of the president’s longtime personal lawyer is going ahead in the Southern District of New York, today the president issued a full pardon to this guy who was convicted by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. The president also decided today to dangle the prospect of a whole bunch of other pardons for other people you might have heard of.”
Maddow went on to say, “Psychologically, the president has started using the pardon power in a way that is designed to showcase his own power to arbitrarily pardon whoever he wants, outside any system. To act on a whim, to do it whenever he feels like it.”
She played a tape of President Nixon talking on the phone with his Chief of Staff, Bill Haldeman and hinting about a pardon. Haldeman was audibly uncomfortable and told Nixon he shouldn’t be mentioning this because it could implicate him in “criminal obstruction of justice.”
Maddow continued, “The problem is, even for presidents of the United States, even with a presidential power as broad as the pardon power, you can’t just do it for anybody in any circumstances. Not in the case of a Bob Haldeman, you couldn’t. At least that’s what they thought during Watergate. And if you couldn’t with Bob Haldeman, why would anybody think you could do this with Michael Cohen?”
Watch the segment:
Presidential pardon power is broad, but you can't just do it for anybody in any circumstances. If Nixon couldn't do it for Bob Haldeman, why would anyone think Trump could do it with Michael Cohen? pic.twitter.com/pg1QwlM1xy
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) June 1, 2018