Trump’s ‘absolute right’ and the Russian investigation

The Mueller investigation into possible interference in the US election in 2016 continues, as does denials and diversions by Donald Trump and his legal team. Trump’s assertion of absolute power has raised further concerns. They may or may not be seriously suggesting Trump would pardon himself, but it is further muddying and murking the issue.

NY Times: Trump and His Lawyers Embrace a Vision of Vast Executive Power

President Trump, ramping up his assertions of extraordinary powers, declared in a tweet on Monday that he had “the absolute right” to pardon himself for any crime.

While no president has ever attempted to pardon himself, and it is not clear whether Mr. Trump could legitimately take such a step, the president’s claim was the latest in an aggressive series of moves to assert his control over federal law enforcement.

Last month, Mr. Trump crossed a traditional line by ordering an investigation into the Russia investigators. And late last year he boasted he has “an absolute right to do what I want to with the Justice Department.”

The president has had help in shaping his expansive view of his authority: For at least a year, his lawyers in the investigation into whether he tried to obstruct the Russia inquiry have been advising the president that he wields sweeping constitutional powers to impede investigations no matter his motive — and despite obstruction-of-justice laws that everyone else must obey.

Meanwhile a pardon is being sought for one of those already arrested.

The Hill: Papadopoulos’s wife asks Trump to pardon her husband in Mueller probe

The wife of former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos on Monday appealed to President Trump to pardon her husband, who pleaded guilty last year in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson that her husband was “dedicated and committed” to the Trump campaign. She said his “freedom is challenged” after he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI last October amid the probe into Russia’s election interference.

“So I trust and hope and ask to President Trump to pardon him. I hope he will,” she said.

It would not only raise legal and constitutional eyebrows if Papadopoulos was pardoned given Trump’s dumping him under a bus last November:

Papadopoulos is one of at least four former Trump associates to plead guilty or be indicted as part of Mueller’s probe.The White House denied in March that it was considering pardons for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort or former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who were both implicated in Mueller’s investigation.

Meanwhile things look murkier for Manafort.

CBS News: Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team accuses Paul Manafort of witness tampering

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort made several attempts to tamper with witnesses in his ongoing criminal cases, prosecutors said Monday. They have also asked a federal judge to consider revoking his house arrest.

In a court filing, prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller wrote that Manafort and one of his associates “repeatedly” contacted two witnesses in an effort to influence their testimony. The contacts occurred earlier this year, shortly after a grand jury returned a new indictment against Manafort and while he was confined to his home.

“Manafort’s obstructive conduct … instills little confidence that restrictions short of detention will assure Manafort’s compliance with the court’s orders and prevent him from committing further crimes,” the filing states.

According to the court filing, Manafort began messaging and calling one of the witnesses in February shortly after a federal grand jury in Washington returned a superseding indictment against him that included allegations of unregistered lobbying related to the Hapsburg Group.

Manafort messaged and called one of the witnesses the day after his co-defendant and business partner, Rick Gates, pleaded guilty and continued reaching out over the next several days, according to a sworn affidavit filed by an FBI agent in the case.

It wouldn’t be a good look pardoning obstruction of justice.

It’s odd that the issue of self-pardoning has come up – if he has done nothing wrong there would be nothing to pardon.

I would have thought that if Trump was really innocent of collusion as he claims he would welcome the Mueller investigation clearing things up.

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53 Comments

  1. Griff

     /  June 6, 2018

    Trump has stepped well over the mark with this belief he is above the law .
    Yet we have so called libertarians supporting this facist.
    No man is above the law.

    Reply
    • Joe Bloggs

       /  June 6, 2018

      It’s hardly surprising that libertarians have embraced trump and fascism.

      Libertarianism has always been a refuge of racism and implicit support for authoritarianism, despite direct contradiction to their supposed ideology. Throughout history, the men who are considered the cornerstone of the libertarian philosophy have supported brutal dictators. Look at Mises’ support of Mussolini, or Hayek and Friedman’s backing of Pinochet. It’s clear that the these people have always been willing to put aside ideology for what they see as an end that justifies the means.

      Rothbard himself wrote that “The proper strategy of libertarians and paleos is a strategy of ‘right-wing populism” Essentially, that means appealing to the racism held within the right of American society (not dissimilar to what we see in trump).

      Libertarianism is particularly appealing to white middle class men. It seems obvious why; this group is perhaps the most privileged in our society, and sees little reason for a change in the societal order in place.

      Similarly, the alt-right and all levels of far-right politics hold exactly the same goal, though admittedly they aim to achieve them through different means. But when the advantages start to erode, that’s when they are forced to turn to more reactionary, authoritarian ideologies. Immigration is an ideal example for this, since under a libertarian ideology, immigration should not be restricted in any way.

      Borders are one of the major constructs of the state, and we shouldn’t be restricting the right of people to choose where they live. However, if you actually talk to libertarians, very often you’ll find that they are far more against immigration than their supposed ideology would suggest.

      The same rhetoric around the ‘undeserving poor’ is used both towards people on welfare, and immigrants who are apparently coming to live on welfare. This is also due to the idea that immigrants will vote for left-wing parties more (which they do), and then lead to a stronger welfare state. Time and time again, libertarians have shown to be willing to abandon what they would claim as their core principles to uphold the societal order, which places them at the top.

      Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  June 6, 2018

      He is accountable to the electorate and subject to that has wide powers granted explicitly by the Constitution.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  June 6, 2018

        The Constitution provides that Congress may impeach the President as a more immediate protection than the next election.

        Reply
  2. Joe Bloggs

     /  June 6, 2018

    Witnesses, schmitnesses. Some of them can be expected to perjure themselves in the expectation of a pardon from Uncle Don. It seems that Mueller also has plenty of documents and communications, which won’t change their story and can’t be tainted by witness tampering or accusations of pandering for judicial clemency.

    Reply
  3. Patzcuaro

     /  June 6, 2018

    Looks like Trump is envious of Putin Power.

    Reply
    • Patzcuaro

       /  June 6, 2018

      Must be to do with his small hands.

      Reply
      • Joe Bloggs

         /  June 6, 2018

        Small hands? Tiny tiny hands. Here’s indisputable proof 😀

        Reply
        • Patzcuaro

           /  June 6, 2018

          Big letter from Kim maybe it was designed to highlight Trumps small hands.

          Reply
          • Joe Bloggs

             /  June 6, 2018

            No doubt about it – this was a masterly troll by Kim.
            Legend!

            Reply
        • Corky

           /  June 6, 2018

          The inanities you socialists fuss over. No wonder you guys never make a buck.

          But you forget, Bloggs..Trumpy has a huge bulging bank balance..and the ultimate power of President. A greater turn on for women you wont find.

          Reply
          • Griff

             /  June 6, 2018

            A greater turn on for prostitutes you wont find.
            Fixed for ya.

            Reply
            • Corky

               /  June 6, 2018

              And Melania. That’s a double whammy. That’s power, Griffy.

  4. Zedd

     /  June 6, 2018

    I saw a brief news item; the billionaire ‘Koch Brothers’ are reportedly now opposed to Mr Ts extreme views ?!
    Many calling USA a democracy.. but moving toward a Dictatorship
    “No man is above the law” but MrT & his cronies are now hinting; that he is ! B-S

    It sounds like he is challenging the USA people to ‘Do something about it/him’ (not wishing to add a godwin… again)

    Reply
  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  June 6, 2018

    Hilarious to see the Left wriggling on their own legalistic hooks.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  June 6, 2018

      Trump has appointed Constitution-respecting judges and now will ram the Constitution down the throats of the Left who were attempting to use obscure and ambiguous laws to overturn the democratically elected President.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  June 6, 2018

        Reply
      • Zedd

         /  June 6, 2018

        All I can say Alan.. ‘Im glad we now have MMP’ if what Mr T runs is called ‘democracy’

        btw; Ms Clinton actually got >3mil more votes than him. So did he actually win or was it a failed system that put him there.. with the possible ‘help’ of many on social media (F-bk/Cambridge Analytica etc. & maybe ‘the Russians’) ‘swaying public opinion’ !

        Reply
        • MaureenW

           /  June 6, 2018

          The US is a Presidential Republic, not a democracy.

          The Electoral College system secured Trumps victory.

          You do know the the Labour Party secured only 39.6% of the vote at the last election against National’s 44.4%?

          Reply
          • MaureenW

             /  June 6, 2018

            Maybe the Russians were in bed with Jacinta .. the baby may be an Aleksander or Nikita?

            Reply
      • Joe Bloggs

         /  June 6, 2018

        Clearly Al’s back on the Ambien, dropped a tab of acid, and has just pulled another all-nighter. Frothy righty alert.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  June 6, 2018

          Nope. Been busy making a concrete pad for a diesel tank and pruning back a wild creeper. Will check back on who Trump’s pardoned today later.

          Reply
          • Joe Bloggs

             /  June 6, 2018

            well you’ll enjoy this then… all the way from flakey fakey Fox “News”…

            http://thehill.com/homenews/media/390719-fox-newss-napolitano-trump-team-legal-letter-shows-sophomoric-view-of-the-law

            Judge Andrew Napolitano blasted President Trump’s legal team during an appearance on Fox News Monday, arguing it was showing a “sophomoric view of the law” and that it was not serving the president well.

            The senior judicial analyst for Fox News called the January memo from Trump’s legal team to special counsel Robert Mueller a “disgrace” and “very harmful” to the president’s case.

            He also faulted the leaking of the letter, saying he did not understand why the president’s team would want it public given it had cited the wrong statute in one case and incorrectly interpreted an opinion in another.

            “I don’t know how it got out,” Napolitano said. “I don’t know why the White House would have leaked it, as has been suggested, because it shows a sophomoric view of the law.”

            Napolitano said Giuliani’s claim that Trump wouldn’t be indicted even if he shot former FBI Director James Comey was “absurd.”

            “He could be arrested, charged, indicted, released, tried after he leaves the White House but no way would any law enforcement agency allow a murder or an attempted murder go uncharged because the person behind it was the president, and Giuliani knows that,” Napolitano said.

            He also suggested that Trump may want Giuliani “causing this chaos” because it dominates the news cycles.

            I’m guessing that ‘sophomoric’ world-view is what Alan’s so drawn to

            Reply
  6. Joe Bloggs

     /  June 6, 2018

    Interesting discussion of the change in trumpian discourse over l’Affaire Russe:

    brushing aside constitutional law and precedent, Trump’s language has become increasing shrill. Months ago it was that the Russians did not interfere in the elections and that claim has largely been rejected by the Senate and special prosecutor investigation. Then it was his campaign did nothing wrong, until Bob Mueller secured several indictments and guilty pleas. Then it was he did nothing wrong but he could nonetheless fire FBI director for any reason and it did not constitute obstruction of justice. Now the language has shifted.

    Yes, one still sees assertions of innocence, but increasingly it is that the special prosecutor and investigation are unconstitutional, which it is not, and that is why if the president shuts down the investigation it cannot be illegal (obstruction of justice) because the president has done it. And now it is I can simply pardon myself even if I did act illegally, although I am not a crook.

    While in arguing this both Trump and Rudy Giuliani still claim the president does not need to issue a pardon for the former because he has done nothing wrong, resorting finally to saying no matter what I did–even if it is illegal–I can simply pardon myself is effectively saying that Trump may have broken the law but I get away with it because simply I can.

    So Trump is caught in a Nixon moment. Either he is a crook but can pardon himself, or nothing he does is illegal because he is president. Like Nixon, Trump wants it both ways, asserting his innocence while tacitly admitting he has done something illegal if done by anyone else but because he is president he cannot have broken the law.

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/06/05/trumps-nixonian-moment-has-arrived/

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  June 6, 2018

      This ignorant Lefty fantasy is wrecked by the fact that Trump’s previous lawyers made most of these points six months ago. Stuffs the timeline completely.

      Reply
    • MaureenW

       /  June 6, 2018

      They need to keep looking harder – spying on Trump since 2015 and Meuller investigating for over 12 months and still no crime has been levelled.

      You article is a collection of convenience threads trying to pretend they are a story about Trump. Semantics and bluster is all you’ve got. Keep up and take note of what is happening instead of what you’d like to happen.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  June 6, 2018

        Mueller hasn’t completed his investigation yet Maureen.
        Best to wait. When it comes to what he’s uncovered – we don’t yet know what we don’t know.

        Reply
      • Joe Bloggs

         /  June 6, 2018

        yeah whatever, Magic Mushroom Lady

        Just remember the numbers never lie:
        6 convictions
        14 individuals and 3 corporations indicted
        over 100 charges laid

        and that’s what the public knows of. I’ll bet your last zucchini there are more than a few sealed indictments in Mueller’s bottom drawer just waiting.

        The sham of trump’s (and your) position has already been exposed with the indictment of 13 Russians and 3 Russian companies for doing exactly what Trump for so long has tried to suggest didn’t happen.

        And there’s plenty more to come by every account.

        Reply
  7. Griff

     /  June 6, 2018

    MAGA
    Making Attorneys Get Attorneys

    Reply
  8. Alan Wilkinson

     /  June 6, 2018
    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  June 6, 2018

      Every President has transformed the Republican Party. It basically goes wherever an incumbent President and the NRA send it.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  June 6, 2018

        In this case it is going where the electorate sends it.

        Reply

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