18 U.S.C. 1510, bribe, campaign, Collusion, deliberations, Election, Impeachment, interference, jury, Manafort, manager, Mueller, pardon, president, russia, trial, trump, ukraine
Today marked the second day of jury deliberations for the trial of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign manager. Manafort is being tried for 18 criminal charges for bank and tax fraud related to the time he spent working for a Ukrainian political party. Manafort refused to cooperate with the Mueller investigation, and it has been theorized that this decision was based on a belief that President Trump would pardon him if he were convicted.
Whether Trump will pardon Manafort is unknown; however he has used his pardon power politically in the past, and his former lawyer, John Down, apparently broached the subject of a possible pardon with Manafort’s lawyers. When asked whether he would consider pardoning Manafort, the President refused to say, but did comment that “the whole . . . trial is very sad.”
In an article written for the American Constitutional Society, entitled Why President Trump Can’t Pardon His Way Out of the Special Counsel and Cohen Investigations, Noah Bookbinder, Norman Eisen, Caroline Fredrickson, and Conor Shaw write that “a prospective pardon of a witness in the Russia investigation might . . . constitute an obstruction of a criminal investigation . . . .” They are referring to section 1510 of title 18 of the the United States Code, which makes the “[willful endeavoring], by means of bribery to obstruct, delay, or prevent the communication of information relating to a violation of any criminal statute of the United States by any person to a criminal investigator” a federal crime. If President Trump did, directly or indirectly, promise Manafort a pardon in exchange for his refusal to cooperate with Mueller, then he may not only be subject to criminal indictment but yet another article of impeachment as well.
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Do the authors address these issues?
Schick v. Reed (1974), “compels the conclusion that the [pardon] power flows from the Constitution alone, not from any legislative enactments, and that it cannot be modified, abridged, or diminished by the Congress.”
United States v. Klein (1871 “To the executive alone is intrusted the power of pardon, and it is granted without limit.”
The question is not whether Mr. Trump has the constitutional power to pardon Manafort or others. Or whether such pardons, if issued, will stick. He does. They would. The question is whether an abuse of the pardon power – issuing pardons for the purpose of obstructing justice — is impeachable. And, as several Founders unequivocally stated, it is. For one among many discussions on this site about the question, see https://impeachableoffenses.net/2018/06/01/the-dsouza-pardon-trump-builds-the-case-for-his-own-impeachment/
As for Manafort’s own crimes, I suspect Mueller didn’t even offer him a deal since Rick Gates probably gave Mueller all the evidence needed put Manafort away for (effectively) life.
As for Manafort testifying against Trump, I don’t see how a pardon would help Trump. Correct me if wrong, but if Trump were to pardon Manafort, then Manafort couldn’t claim the 5th and refuse to talk about any crimes involving the two of them.
The theory is this: Mueller would have offered Manafort a deal in exchange for information which would incriminate Manafort’s superiors (perhaps including Trump). Trump offered to pardon Manafort in order to remove any motivation Manafort might have had to accept such a deal.
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