Though it appears Donald Trump will try to use the presidential pardon power to shield himself, his family and his crooked buddies from legal trouble, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff – chair of the House Intelligence Committee – said on Tuesday that pardons won’t completely protect the president from legal liability.
With respect to the latest news that the Department of Justice is investigating a potential pardon bribery scheme at the White House, Rep. Schiff said Trump may not be able to escape liability – even if he does pardon himself before leaving office.
“There may be certain parts of this conspiracy … that are also prosecutable by state and local officials, so there may not be a complete escape from liability,” the Democratic lawmaker said.
“If the president were a party to this … he would not be insulated, not able to pardon himself or escape liability that way,” Rep. Schiff added.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) explains why pardons won’t save Donald Trump from legal trouble. pic.twitter.com/p4TdBrCtzq
— PoliticusUSA (@politicususa) December 2, 2020
Rep. Schiff said:
Number one, there may be issues, even though the pardon would be a federal act, that nonetheless violate state law. There may be certain parts of this conspiracy – if that’s what’s involved here – that are also prosecutable by state and local officials, so there may not be a complete escape from liability. And, you know, if the president were a party to this – and obviously, that may very well not be the case, he may have no knowledge even of this – he would not be insulated, not able to pardon himself or escape liability that way. So I guess the long and the short of it is in terms of what the Congress can do, probably not very much but in terms of what state and local prosecutors may be able to do, that would be more extensive. And the congressional rule here would be oversight and prospective legislation to try to curb these abuses in the future.
Pardons won’t save Donald Trump
With the coronavirus raging across the country and millions of families and businesses struggling to get by in this flailing economy, Donald Trump is spending the final days of his presidency doing two things: trying to overturn the election and handing out pardons to his crooked pals.
The good news for those hoping that Trump is held accountable once he leaves office is that presidential pardons only apply to federal law, not state and local offenses.
With Donald Trump, his business and family facing investigations in New York, no amount of presidential pardons will allow him to fully escape legal accountability.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.