Thursday, December 24, 2020

27 Days to Fresh Start: Challenge Any Self-Pardon by an Evil Man

 I think I share with the evangelical community—Christian and Jewish—the belief that Donald Trump is an agent of God. Only, I believe he is an evil man sent by God to test our resolve to do good during our stay on this earth.

His latest dastardly deed inflicted pain and anguish on Democrats, Independents and Republicans suffering financially from the coronavirus pandemic’s assault on the economy. Instead of actively leading the discussion on the size of relief checks, Trump waited till the eleventh hour to express his preference for the amount he wanted. He threatened to veto the relief bill if it didn’t provide $2,000 per eligible person rather than the congressional compromise amount of $600.

On the surface, a noble act. But in reality his blindsided decree undercut Republican support for the relief bill and has jeopardized the much needed package Americans of all stripes need to survive.

A truly Grinch-like deed as the nation awaits a mostly joyless Christmas and New Year. Surely not a message of goodwill to all. 

Few, I would hope, would argue that since the turn of the 20th century the United States has been the primary source of global benefits, not as pertains to conquest and corporate aggrandizement, but rather as the most underlying force for the expansion of personal liberties and healthy living.

Through our entry into two world wars America provided the balance of power to overcome tyranny in distant lands. Moreover, victory enabled the domestic march toward racial and gender equalities, however imperfect and incomplete those achievements remain.

The U.S. set the global example of dedicating vast tracts of public land for all to enjoy. We championed just peace and helped rebuild our enemies. We forged strategic alliances to preserve peace and repress aggression.

Our annual budgets, though heavily weighted by military spending, nevertheless included funds to spread democratic values around the world and provide humanitarian aid after disasters.

Our technological and medical breakthroughs have softened and enriched the lives of billions. At the same time our shores have welcomed those seeking refuge from intolerance and oppression. Once inside our borders immigrants have been able to exercise their industry and ingenuity.

As we enter the third decade of the 21st century Trump is doing everything in his power to topple the heritage of achievement his predecessors built.

To be sure, many of his actions have been legal. Misguided, but legal. His pardons of convicted criminals and murderers have undercut the rule of law and the military code of honor.

Trump haters want him prosecuted. But it is doubtful any of his foul deeds violated any of the powers granted a president by the Constitution.

Yet, if he chooses to test the limits of presidential authority by issuing a self-pardon it would be incumbent upon the Biden justice department to immediately seek Supreme Court review. At stake is our very bedrock principle that no one is above the law.

If the court finds in Trump’s favor a future president could act without compliance to any federal legal standard, without fear of any restraint or punishment. A president or self-pardoned ex-president could, for example, reveal national security secrets without personal repercussions. Even impeachment while in office for “high crimes and misdemeanors” would have no impact on behavior that could be excused by a self-pardon.

In the waning days—27, to be exact—of his occupancy of the White House Trump will continue to amaze and flabbergast. It is a “small” price we collectively will pay the blackmailer to rid ourselves of evil in the Oval Office. 

We owe it to future generations to settle the debate if a president can self-pardon. I, for one, will not be surprised that Trump, the consummate grifter, will try to grab the ultimate prize to exonerate the last four years of his life, the 70 that preceded them and the remaining years he trolls this earth. 

Whether he gets away with such a brazen act will rest on the collective wisdom of the Supreme Court.