Executive Branch

Should Trump issue blanket pardons in Mueller probe? 2 BigLaw partners back the idea

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President Donald Trump should issue blanket pardons covering any offense investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to a recent op-ed by two BigLaw partners.

Mueller’s probe has “ morphed into an open-ended inquiry” that is examining issues far-removed from the probe of Russian influence in the election, David Rivkin Jr. and Lee Casey of BakerHostetler write in the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).

Trump “can end this madness by immediately issuing a blanket presidential pardon to anyone involved in supposed collusion with Russia or Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign, to anyone involved with Russian acquisition of an American uranium company during the Obama administration, and to anyone for any offense that has been investigated by Mr. Mueller’s office,” the lawyers write.

The president himself would be protected by the pardon, but it wouldn’t extend to impeachment if Congress were to find evidence that he was somehow involved in Russian collusion, according to the lawyers.

Rivkin and Casey don’t identify their law firm affiliation in the Oct. 29 op-ed, published before the release of the special counsel’s money-laundering indictment of Paul Manafort and his former business associate, Rick Gates. Above the Law notes the op-ed, as well as one by the New York Times that suggests a different tack.

The writer of the Times piece is John Yoo, who was in the news for his Justice Department work on legal memos endorsing harsh interrogation techniques for terrorism suspects.

Rivkin and Casey argue that any investigation of Russian collusion should be left to Congress, where those conducting the inquiry “will be legitimate and politically accountable.”

“Permitting the criminal law again to become a regular weapon in politics is more destructive of democratic government than ham-handed efforts by a foreign power to embarrass one or more presidential candidates,” they write. “It is true that Washington’s Augean stables need periodic cleaning, but it is Congress that should wield the shovels.”

Yoo believes Trump has the right under the Constitution to pardon himself and others in the Mueller probe, but it’s a bad idea that “would provoke a political disaster” and spur impeachment moves.

Trump should cooperate in the investigation to prove his innocence, Yoo says. And, if Mueller is acting improperly, “the remedy is to fire him, not to preemptively forgive everyone involved in the crime.”

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