Imagine that you’re the President of the United States and you’ve committed a litany of crimes not only before you won the election, but long after you’ve been sworn into office. Now, try to imagine how you might act if you thought your illegalities were on the verge of being exposed. How might you act if you wanted to protect yourself?
Odds are your behavior would look very similar to President Trump’s who — despite his numerous protestations that he hasn’t done anything wrong — continues to hedge his bets in case it somehow becomes public knowledge that he has broken the law.
An innocent president would not feel the need to blast out a tweet to the world erroneously claiming that “numerous legal scholars” believe the president has the “absolute right” to pardon himself, but that’s exactly what Trump did this morning.
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In the same breath, he assures us that he would never have to pardon himself anyway since he hasn’t done anything wrong. Why then even make the claim that you can pardon yourself in the first place?
It’s perhaps one of his guiltiest looking tweets to date, helped in no part by his pathetic attempt to shift blame away from himself onto the Democrats. It’s a message written by a man who fears he may be forced to issue a pardon for himself soon and who is trying to lay the groundwork for such an undemocratic act.
As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong? In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2018
Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, quickly took to Twitter himself to rebut the president’s ridiculous claim. Schiff pointed out that disgraced former President Nixon asked the Department of Justice if the president could pardon himself, to which they responded in the negative because no person can be their own judge.
Three days after he got the answer he didn’t want from the DOJ, Nixon resigned in ignominy. Schiff followed up with the jab that if Trump really wants to follow Nixon’s example, he should resign on Thursday.
President Nixon asked the Department of Justice if he could pardon himself. They said no, as no one may be the judge in their own case. He resigned three days later.
In case you want to follow the Nixon model, that would be Thursday. https://t.co/5ntHaySTBJ
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) June 4, 2018
President Trump would be wise to heed Schiff’s advice. It looks increasingly likely that Robert Mueller is going to reveal serial wrongdoing by Trump and his closest cronies. At that point, the best he can hope for is to resign and pray that a newly empowered President Pence pardons him the way Ford did Nixon. In which case, he could save all of us a lot of time by just leaving office now.