I’m still sticking to my prediction that in the end Trump will resign ala Richard Nixon. The question is just how it will happen. Unlike Nixon, Trump neither really has any friends in Congress nor much more importantly respects America or its Constitution. Nixon finally gave up when he knew he was caught and placed country over self; I doubt Trump will. In light of recent developments I have some ideas on likely events between here and Trump’s ultimate political demise. Let’s explore.
On March 25th I published what to date is my most important op-ed of the year entitled, Bona. (You can easily find it by going to the date in the archives or simply typing Bona into the search box.) In it I talked about how Trump wants to keep the clock running as long as possible in order to enrich himself as much as possible.
If Russiagate were a Shakespearian play we would expect an element of comic relief much of which has been provided by Trump himself. Early on he was supplemented by Carter Page and of late by Rudy Giuliani. But the ridiculousness may well portend events to come. Claims have been made that Trump cannot be subpoenaed to testify by Robert Mueller and that he can pardon himself. Both appear to be false however neither is a matter of settled law and therefore could well go to the courts and eventually the Supreme Court. Even expedited cases take time and that is all Trump’s organized criminal enterprise wants. Simply put, the more days he is in office the more money and/or opportunities to make money he can extort from foreign and domestic suitors of favors.
If Trump is deposed by Mueller’s team he will undoubtable incriminate himself and many close to him in a multitude of crimes while most likely adding perjury to the list. Despite his rhetoric to the contrary he will move heaven and earth not to be deposed. While this is not settled law there is a 1970’s legal opinion stating that a sitting President must comply with a subpoena.
The Constitution does not specifically prohibit a President from pardoning himself; it simply doesn’t deal with the matter. The founders designed our government in such a fashion that they had the legislative branch (Congress) acting as a check on the executive branch (President). Their oversight was not imagining a situation where Congress would place personal political future over patriotism as is happening today. (Can you imagine how this Congress would react if Hillary Clinton had won, hired her son-in-law as a Senior Advisor and he had pulled some of Jared Kushner’s antics?)
If Mueller subpoenas Trump I expect him to refuse to testify. When his wrongdoings are finally publically exposed by Mueller’s investigation or its successor(s) and if public opinion turns against him to a large enough degree I expect him to pardon himself (along with several of his co-conspirators along the way). Either of those actions will inevitably come before the Supreme Court.
The founders specifically chose a president instead of a king because in large part they had rebelled against the monarchy of England and the concept that any person could be above the law.
The question is whether at least 5 of the 9 justices will chose democracy over politics. Certainly a presidential self-pardon is so contrary to the basis of America that it should be a 9-0 ruling, but I’ll be placated and America saved by a split decision.
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