Thursday, June 15, 2023

Biden Should Pardon Trump

 Yes, as I suggested in my previous post, I really do believe that following the example of Gerald Ford in pardoning Richard Nixon, Joe Biden should pardon Donald Trump for the crimes charged in Jack Smith's indictment.

I was pleased to see an opinion piece this morning in the Washington Post by Marc Thiessen and Danielle Pletka agreeing with me.

Of course, as I indicated, it might appear that Biden pardoning Trump would violate the Lockean rule of law by exempting Trump from the criminal law as it applies to everyone else.  But Locke recognized that sometimes the law must be set aside when the public good demands it.  And in this case, there is a good argument for saying that taking this case to court, with a prolonged trial, is not good for the country, just as was the case for the prospect of trying Nixon for his crimes.

Many Americans believe the prosecution of Trump for the crime of illegally holding classified documents is a purely partisan use of the legal system--a "weaponization" of the Department of Justice--by which Biden and the Democrats attack Trump as the likely Republican nominee to run against Biden in 2024.  If Biden were to pardon Trump, this would deflate that "weaponization" argument, and even Trump's most ardent supporters would be forced to take seriously the devastating evidence in the indictment that Trump really is a criminal.

This would also weaken any public support for a future Republican president "weaponizing" the Department of Justice against the Democrats as retaliation.  In fact, Trump in his first speech after his arraignment threatened to do just this if he is elected in 2024, saying that he would "get Biden" if he is elected again.  And Jeffrey Clark, who Trump had hoped to make his Attorney General, has argued that the Constitution establishes a "unitary executive" that controls the whole executive branch of government, so the U.S. Justice Department is not independent of the President.  Biden pardoning Trump would make this claim much less persuasive than it might be after a trial of Trump by the Department of Justice.

Moreover, as Thiessen and Pletka point out, there is the serious possibility that any trial of Trump could lead to his acquittal if even one juror refuses to convict.  And it that were to happen, Trump and his supporters could say that proves that the prosecution was an unjustified partisan attack, which would promote Trump's campaign for the Republican nomination for President and perhaps even winning a second term.

By contrast, if Biden were to pardon Trump, Trump would lose this rhetorical advantage.  Moreover, Trump would not escape punishment for his crimes.  Just as Nixon was punished by being forced to resign the presidency, Trump would be punished by Jack Smith's report of his investigation showing the evidence against Trump and by Trump's loss of public support for his reelection.

Finally, Biden's pardon would show the same level of statesmanship shown by Ford when he pardoned Nixon in saying that avoiding a deeply divisive criminal trial of a former president served the public good of the country.


Anonymous said...

Sure, but the real questions are: a.) Should he pardon Hunter; b. Should he pardon himself?

Larry Arnhart said...

Pardoned for what?

The U.S. Attorney for Delaware, David Weiss, a Trump appointee, has just accepted a plea deal with Hunter Biden, who pleads guilty to two misdemeanor tax changes. After years of investigation, Weiss found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

In January, Rober Hur, a Trump appointee, was chosen as special counsel to investigate whether President Biden improperly handled classified documents. As far as I know, Biden's lawyers quickly turned over to the National Archives all the classified documents they found, which differs from Trump's stubborn withholding of his documents.

Congressional Republicans are free to look for evidence of crimes, although so far they have not produced such evidence.

Is this what you have in mind?

Larry Arnhart said...

Sorry. It's "tax charges."