A day after inciting a mob to invade the US Capitol and interrupt the certification of an election he lost, Donald Trump finally admitted defeat in a lie-filled video he posted to Twitter once his account was unlocked by the social media company. Several lawmakers implored Trump’s cabinet, including vice president Mike Pence, to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove him from office, while other lawmakers weighed whether they should impeach him a second time in the dying days of his presidency.
There are also investigations into exactly what caused the chaos on Capitol Hill, and whether Trump bears legal responsibility for the mob of his own supporters who broke into the Capitol brandishing Trump and confederate battle flags. The coup attempt shocked the world and left four dead, which is why the fact that Trump may intend to pardon himself as one of his last acts as president seem especially noteworthy.
The New York Times reported Thursday that Trump is weighing whether he will pardon himself, which is something that may not even be possible for a president to do because, well, it’s never been attempted.
In several conversations since Election Day, Mr. Trump has told advisers that he is considering giving himself a pardon and, in other instances, asked whether he should and what the effect would be on him legally and politically, according to the two people. It was not clear whether he had broached the topic since he incited his supporters on Wednesday to march on the Capitol, where some stormed the building in a mob attack.
Mr. Trump has shown signs that his level of interest in pardoning himself goes beyond idle musings. He has long maintained he has the power to pardon himself, and his polling of aides’ views is typically a sign that he is preparing to follow through on his aims. He has also become increasingly convinced that his perceived enemies will use the levers of law enforcement to target him after he leaves office.
No president has ever issued a pardon for themselves, and its unprecedented nature would only be the latest part of the Trump presidency to break every conceivable norm of the office he holds. And while there may not be much more Trump can do to damage the presidency and the very fabric of democracy in America in the final days before January 20, many are worried about the precedent a move for self-clemency would bring. Trump has many times said he was above the law as president, but a move like a self-pardon would bring that sentiment much closer to reality.
Bloomberg also reported Thursday that Trump is weighing pardons for a number of other members of his family, White House officials and musicians like Lil Wayne and Kodak Black.
Preemptive pardons are under discussion for top White House officials who have not been charged with crimes, including Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, senior adviser Stephen Miller, personnel chief John McEntee, and social media director Dan Scavino.
The president’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, her husband, Jared Kushner, who both hold White House positions, are also under consideration, the people said. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has also discussed the issue of a pardon with the president.
Many things that have happened in the four years of Donald Trump’s presidency have been dismissed simply because that’s not what is supposed to be allowed to happen. But in the wake of a coup attempt encouraged by the president himself, it’s difficult to downplay any news of absurd things Trump hopes to do while still in power, and how desperate he is to avoid consequences for the chaos he’s sewn.