Donald Trump has made it clear that he wants to pardon anyone who was arrested during the Inauguration Day riots in January, but Adam Schiff has warned that this would be very important evidence against Trump, and that it would show his guilt in obstructing justice.
It has been reported that President Donald Trump may seek to pardon a group of people involved in a mass arrest on January 6th, during which numerous acts of vandalism took place.
In issuing pardons for those involved in criminal activity, failed President Trump would be sending a clear message that criminal activity will be tolerated and encouraged. Trump also seems ready and willing to obstruct justice by rewarding those who engage in such behavior, seeking immunity from prosecution for them.
Trump has already set the precedent to obstruct justice by firing James Comey after he threatened an investigation into Trump’s campaign’s ties with Russia. Now, rather than face charges for crimes committed at rallies like January 6th, Trump wants instead to reward them.
If he wasn’t president at any point before January 20th of last year, or if he weren’t affiliated with any other political party than one out of power at all points preceding 2017, these acts could potentially constitute treason; however as of now they only constitute obstruction of justice.
So why does this matter? Well, Adam Schiff says there are several reasons why granting these pardons would be a bad idea. First, President Trump could only grant pardons for federal crimes and no state charges have been filed yet.
Second, although he wouldn’t be able to get away with it legally, President Trump could use pardons as a bribe so participants don’t reveal any wrongdoings (such as illicit campaign interactions). Third, when looking at other cases where mass rioting has happened throughout U.S. history (like Baltimore), those involved were given lenient sentences even if they admitted their guilt.
Given that, it seems likely that all of these January 6th rioters would receive similar treatment should Trump return to power.
That said, because our nation isn’t currently in a state of emergency and there hasn’t been an overthrow of federal government, yet, Schiff and the Democrat’s best bet is to push the prosecution based on the evidence.
No president has pardoned someone for a crime that occurred in office, but there’s no rule against it. For example, President George H.W. Bush pardoned six administration officials who were charged with contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about their involvement in a savings and loan scandal.
And Gerald Ford pardoned his predecessor Richard Nixon just months after he resigned from office over Watergate. In both cases, however, Congress did not pursue articles of impeachment against either former president because they had no desire for such proceedings – which would have been required by House rules – to drag out into an even longer investigation that could eventually lead to an official removal from office or prison time (and possible re-imprisonment).
The rub here is that Trump must return to power as there’s no rule against him pardoning the rioters. Prosecution now is the best bet to keep him in check and hold him accountable.
Trump’s comments at last weekend’s rally showed that he plans on using pardons to influence and intimidate witnesses, Schiff believes.
“I think his recent statements, as well as the public reports of prior inquiries about pardoning people involved in attacking the Capitol police that day, they go to a couple of things,” Schiff said to MSNBC anchor Lawrence O’Donnell.