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By *Ted Vaill
What are President Trumputin's long-range plans for the United States of America that he has been crowned the head of by his mentor Vladimir Putin? He can fire missiles at the Syrians and their Russian friends, but the fact remains that he would not have been "elected" President of the Electoral College of the United States without the help of Putin, his Russian flunkies and the Republican traitors who sold out their country to get him elected.
There is a possibility that he will succeed in scheming to get Mueller fired. What then? There are three possibilities:
- The Mueller investigation will collapse, and the investigations in Congress will end, and nothing will be done, unless the American people revolt and return the Democrats to the majority in the House (likely) and the Senate (unlikely) in the November, 2018 mid-term elections. Many progressive political groups are planning strong demonstrations throughout the United States if this happens, and there could be violence. Millions of people could journey to Washington, D. C. and surround the Capitol and demand action.
- Lawsuits could be filed to contest the firing of Mueller as not based on "good cause," and like Trumputin's efforts to gut DACA, the federal courts would tie up his efforts to force the shutdown of the Mueller investigation for many months. In the meantime, Mueller's grand jury could indict many of Trumputin's colleagues for money laundering with the Russians, collusion with same, and obstruction of justice. At the same time, Trumputin could be named an unindicted co-conspirator, and cries in Congress for his impeachment would become loud. His effort to fire Mueller and escape his fate would fail.
- Although most legal authorities believe that Trumputin cannot be indicted or tried in the courts (at least until he is no longer President), he might try to pardon himself and everyone else in his realm from any offenses relating to their indictments, and in the case of Flynn, Papadopoulos, Gates and van der Zwaan, their convictions or guilty pleas. With a likely Democrat majority in the House in January 2019 (unless Trumputin is able to manipulate the voting again with the help of the Russians), his impeachment is almost a certainty. But conviction after trial in the Senate, which requires at least 67 votes, is more unlikely, with 25 Democrats or Independents caucusing with the Democrats versus only eight Republicans up for reelection or election in November 2018.
Clearly, Trumputin's attempts to pardon himself and everyone else around him would be a gross perversion of the President's power to pardon, and the federal courts, and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court, would take a careful look at the President's actions. Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution states that the President "shall have the power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment."
The Supreme Court has also ruled, in the 1866 case of Ex parte Garland, that the pardon power "may be exercised at any time after its commission, either before legal proceedings are taken, or during their pendency, or after conviction and judgment." But we as a nation have never had a situation like the one we now face, and we could hope that at least one member of the Republican 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court would put country ahead of party, and not support this horrendous misuse of the pardoning power.
Pardoning his associates to prevent them from talking about what they did illegally to help get Trumputin elected, or participating in his obstruction of justice, would possibly give him a tactical benefit (unless his associates have already flipped and told everything), but the political cost to him and the GOP would be huge. The Democrats (me included) would do everything in their power to flip the Congress in the November elections and drive Trumputin from office. It would be a sordid admission of guilt by him and his cronies.
And pardons would not end their troubles. There could be state crimes not covered by the Presidential pardons, and the New York AG Eric Schneiderman is already preparing charges to be filed. Michael Cohen's antics in New York City may add to the list of charges. Even with the pardons, Mueller would issue a report to Congress which could form the basis for Trumputin's impeachment, which cannot be pardoned.
Mueller's report could propel the ongoing Congressional investigations into the 2016 election and the Russian interference, and Trumputin's obstruction of justice. And it must not be forgotten that the pardoned persons would almost certainly lose many of their protections against self-incrimination and could be forced to testify before Congressional committees, now or after the next Congress is seated with its (hopefully) Democrat majority in the House. New crimes such as perjury could also be prosecuted, as well as any refusal by pardoned persons to testify truthfully before Congressional committees.
The next few weeks and months should be interesting...*Ted Vaill, a Los Angeles lawyer and filmmaker, grew up in a Republican family (who all would be Democrats today given the extreme rightward shift of the Republican Party in recent years), and is the descendant of an immigrant (who arrived in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620).