CAN I PLEASE HAVE A PARDON?
Dear Mr. President:
I am writing in hopes that you will add me to your list of potential pardons.
I don’t think I have committed any crimes but, hey, you never know when you might want to wave a pardon in someone’s face. The way I see it is, if it’s good enough for your family, why not have it for myself?
Let’s face it. Our criminal justice system has some basic flaws and the biggest of them is that the more money you have, the more likely it is that you will be excused for your crimes.
We all know that you have been pretty much excused for every disgusting thing you might have done as president simply because you are president. And while we have a basic credo that nobody is above the law, it turns out that there is a little piece of paper floating round the Justice Department that says you don’t have to worry about legal prohibitions. After you leave, though, things might be different.
You are quoted as saying that you could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any voters. Of course, murder is usually a state crime but you could be arrested for murder under a myriad of federal statutes. Unfortunately, the murders which you may have committed, like all those tens of thousands of deaths from the coronavirus, cannot be prosecuted under our federal laws. Too bad. On the other hand, if you want a pardon and your children want a pardon and your lawyer wants a pardon and your son-in-law wants a pardon, one can only suspect you all did something of a criminal nature. If pardon them and yourself, even some of your most sycophantic followers will raise their eyebrows.
The Constitution of the United States grants you extraordinary powers to give out pardons. In the case of your own potential pardon, there is some question as to whether you are allowed to break yet another norm in your usual pattern as a norm breaker. I have little doubt that the folks on the United States Supreme Court who you appointed will obediently raise their hands in your favor. After all, you are on record as saying that you wanted Amy Coney Barrett on the court to help you with election matters. It’ll be no fun to watch her on your pardoning power.
We know that some of your predecessors have given pardons that some find questionable. For example, Bill Clinton issued some very suspicious get out of jail free cards to people with a great deal of money. It’s funny how that works. In some cases, a lot of supplicating and lobbying goes into the acquisition of a pardon.
I wish I had been a fly on the wall when you and your kids were talking about pardons. We keep reading that your daughter Ivanka wants to run for president. I can just imagine her at a press conference when a CNN reporter asks her why she accepted a pardon. At that point, there will have to be a lot of hemming and hawing. Then there are the “boys,” Eric and Don Jr., who were running your operations and announcing that there was a lot of money available from the Russians to meet the Trump business needs. Hmmm.
Rudy Giuliani has turned out to be the wildest man in Trump’s entourage. His name seems to be on everyone’s list of potential pardons. As an ex-prosecutor, Rudy must know all about what constitutes crimes that you might have to be pardoned for. Trump keeps suggesting that he might want to run for president again in 2024. He’ll suggest that he had to take a pardon because the Republicans and Democrats were out to get him.
So, can I please have a pardon?
Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at [email protected].