Andrew Weissman Expects Donald Trump to Pardon Himself If He Loses the Election
Andrew Weissman, the top deputy to Special Counsel Robert Mueller during the Russia Investigation, predicted on Friday that President Donald Trump will pardon himself – or at least try to – if he loses the election.
Trump is the subject of several investigations into his finances which are likely to dominate headlines and his personal time by early next year.
“I think the president, if he’s not re-elected, is going to be very busy,” Weissman said on Friday’s edition of Deadline White House on MSNBC.
Trump has “three buckets” of problems, Weissman explained. The first is whether the attorney general in the next administration would want to pursue obstruction of justice charges against the president for attempting to quash the Mueller probe.
Recall that Trump was impeached for this.
If that happens, Weissman said that Trump may pardon himself, which no president has ever done. Additionally, pardons carry with them a requirement that the recipient admit guilt – something that Trump is pathologically incapable of doing.
“I think we may see the president do so something we’ve never seen any president do, which is: try to self-pardon,” Weissman said, adding, “But that would at least delay any sort of federal decision.”
Trump’s other headaches, meanwhile, are at the state level. Presidential pardons cannot be applied to state crimes.
In particular, the slew of investigations being conducted by New York could land Trump in a lot of trouble.
“At the state level, you have a criminal investigation – the Manhattan Office – that looks to be a classic follow-the-money investigation that reminds me very much of what we did with Paul Manafort,” Weissmann said. “They’re clearly going after just the right thing, which is the internal accounting documents, and that’s a criminal investigation.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James is also investigating whether Trump fraudulently over-inflated the value of his Seven Springs estate in order to reap millions of dollars in tax credits.
Weismann said that case has the potential to evolve from civil to criminal in the coming months.
“This president is going to be quite busy,” Weissman said, adding that Trump “cannot pardon his way out of state investigations whether they are civil or criminal.”
What remains to be seen is how far a president’s power to pardon can actually go.
“There’s no question that the Constitution has conferred on the president the power to pardon and it’s incredibly broad, even though lots of people think it can be abused,” Weissman explained later in the interview. “But no president has actually tried to actually pardon himself, and you can imagine this president saying, ‘why not give it a try?’ The downside is it doesn’t work. The Supreme Court says ‘you know what you can’t,’ and then he’s back in the same place that he would have been, except it brings him delay. So why not try it? I do expect that if he’s not reelected that’s something we will see him try.”