Donald Trump’s pardon of Michael Flynn could lay the groundwork for the president to issue a wide-ranging pardon for himself before leaving office, a legal expert says.
On Monday, the Department of Justice released a copy of Trump’s pardon of the former national security adviser, who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during the Russia investigation. As CNN reported, the document appeared to give “far-reaching absolution” from the series of crimes he had already pleaded guilty to in 2017, along with other possible related offenses. The letter also formally asked a federal court to dismiss the case against him.
The wide-ranging nature of the document appears to show a template that Trump could ultimately use on himself, Neal Katyal wrote on Twitter. The professor at Georgetown University Law Center and former acting solicitor general of the United States took to the social media platform to offer his analysis of the pardon, noting that it covers a range of offenses and potentially creates a precedent that Trump could end up using on himself.
I am no expert but this pardon looks written to try to establish a precedent for blanket pardons. It pardons all offenses within the jurisdiction of the Special Counsel, something Trump may hope to do for himself and the lawbreakers he surrounds himself with. Nice try won’t work. https://t.co/R5i7sYWs7G
— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) November 30, 2020
Katyal went on to write that the wording of the document released on Monday looked “sketchy,” and did not appear to be about the former national security adviser at all.
“Flynn pardon not about Flynn but Trump,” he wrote in a subsequent tweet.
The analysis was built on growing speculation that he could end up pardoning himself before Joe Biden is sworn in. As The Inquisitr reported, he faces a number of potential investigations once leaving office, including an ongoing probe in the state of New York believed to be looking into both Trump and his business empire. He could also face charges for a hush money scheme that already sent his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to prison. Through his time in the White House, Trump has been protected by a Department of Justice policy against indicting a sitting president.
Writing for The Intercept, journalist Jon Schwarz noted that Trump could try to give himself blanket protection from facing charges, though it was not clear if this was legally possible.
“He could try to pardon himself on the way out the door for all crimes he’s ever committed. But no one knows whether presidents can do this, since none have ever tried; in any case, it would only apply to violations of the federal code.”
There are indications that Trump could already be considering it. As Vanity Fair reported, he “repeatedly” asked advisers about preemptively pardoning himself for any potential investigations in the future.