Should President Trump pardon his own associates involved in the Russia probe? | The Tylt

Should President Trump pardon his own associates involved in the Russia probe?

President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani has revealed the president recently floated the idea to his legal team of pardoning Paul Manafort and other close aides. Giuliani said the lawyers discouraged the president from giving out pardons, yet did not completely close the door to the possibility. Proponents of pardoning Manafort and other aides say pardons will protect the president and undo what they see as unjust convictions. Others say pardons will put the president in more legal jeopardy. What do you think?

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Should President Trump pardon his own associates involved in the Russia probe?
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Should President Trump pardon his own associates involved in the Russia probe?
#PardonYourFriends
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Lawyer and political commentator Andrew Stoltmann argues in an op-ed for The Hill that Trump needs to pardon Manafort to undo what he sees as an unjust conviction. Stoltmann believes Trump has garnered enough goodwill for himself that he could weather any political blowback. 

President Trump should immediately pardon Paul Manafort for his conviction on eight counts related to tax evasion, bank fraud and hiding foreign bank accounts.
The pardon would gut special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the president, rectify a grave legal wrong and would send a legally permissible message to other defendants who are contemplating cooperating with Mueller not to do so.
Prosecutors have unclean hands and impure motives in bringing these charges against Manafort. This wrong would be rectified with a pardon.
...Some believe a pardon of Manafort would be an act the special counsel’s team would argue is in furtherance of obstruction of justice and that abuse of the pardon power could be grounds for impeachment. Legally, this argument is specious at best.
While clearly a pardon would send a de facto message to others like Michael Cohen who are contemplating cooperating against the president not to do so, this is simply a byproduct of a pardon that, as a matter of law, could not be grounds for a conspiracy.
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Lisa Kern Griffin, a Duke University law professor, disagrees. She says in an interview with Vox that a pardon may be wasted on Manafort, as he is also charged with state crimes in addition to his federal crimes. Not only that, a pardon could further Robert Mueller's obstruction case against Trump. 

[T]here are some constraints that suggest the president should proceed cautiously. Many offenses — including some of the financial crimes included in the Manafort indictment — are also crimes under state law. The president can pardon only for federal offenses, and defendants counting on a blanket pardon may find that it does not cover all potential prosecutions.
If the president issues a pardon in order to influence a witness and impede the investigation, that would also be a further act of obstruction. Although he has the legal authority to pardon, he cannot use that power to commit another crime. A defendant in, say, a fraud case also has the “power” to shred documents that belong to her, but doing so with the intent to shield those documents from a pending investigation would be criminal obstruction.
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Trump already has a strategy in place to discredit Mueller and his investigation. Paul Waldman argues in an op-ed for The Washington Post that there's no reason the same tactic couldn't be taken with regards to pardoning Manafort.

You can already see the argument he’ll make: The whole thing is a witch hunt, the charges are bogus, the jury was a bunch of Angry Democrats, and I’m intervening in the interests of justice. Trump also seems to genuinely believe that the investigation is unfair, and pardoning Manafort would be a great way for him to both assert control and stick it to Mueller.
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Trump has pardoned a significant number of people in his short tenure in office, none of which have caused any substantial harm to his standing. Yet, pardoning someone who is as deeply tied to the Russia investigation as Paul Manafort is, could be a far riskier move. Per The Atlantic:

“It would be dramatically different for Trump to pardon someone directly connected to the Russia investigation, as opposed to someone like Arpaio or a friend or an associate,” said Seth Waxman, a white-collar criminal-defense attorney who served as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. “But dangling a pardon—essentially saying, ‘A pardon will be available for you at some point down the line,’ is tantamount to obstruction of justice and witness tampering.” While Trump’s stated intent for such a pardon would likely echo his previous comments about Manafort being treated unfairly—rather than a blunt admission that he is trying to prevent Manafort from cooperating with law enforcement—Mueller “will be looking circumstantially to determine whether there was criminal intent,” Waxman said. “And the surrounding circumstances certainly suggest, if not probe, that Trump’s intent is to prevent or cause a witness not to testify.”
FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Should President Trump pardon his own associates involved in the Russia probe?
#PardonYourFriends
A festive crown for the winner
#DontRiskIt