Pardon Me?
Slouching Toward Bethlehem

A sure sign of constitutional distress is when the President and his advisers begin to flirt with the pardon power.

Published on: August 3, 2017
Ruth Wedgwood is the Edward Burling Professor of International Law and Diplomacy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, a former federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, and a member of the editorial board of The American Interest.
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  • WigWag

    Can the President pardon himself? Who knows? Who cares?

    But he clearly can pardon anyone else including his friends, his relatives and anyone being investigated by a special counsel.

    Trump should do precisely that. Mueller’s investigation is illegitimate and it makes a mockery of the rule of law. The investigation represents nothing more than an attempt by the venal bipartisan elites who’ve spent the last 30 years ruining our country to get back at a man they despise and believe never should have been elected in the first place.

    While Trump is the target of the moment, what we are witnessing is no different from what we’ve witnessed for decades; an elite attack on tens of millions of working people who those elites believe to be filthy, worthless deplorables. By using the legal system to attack Trump, members of the Washington based uniparty are really attacking the people whom they hate; working Americans.

    Bob Mueller perfectly epitomizes everything wrong with our country. As a former prosecutor and FBI chief, he’s spent decades in the Government swamp feathering his own nest and feeding his own ego.

    Mueller is as repulsive as the rest of the Washington crowd. After pardoning everyone Mueller is investigating, Trump should fire Mueller.

    The Justice Department is not an independent agency reporting to Congress or the Judiciary. It’s part of the Executive Branch responsible solely to the President just like every other Executive Department. If Professor Wedgewood doesn’t like it, she should take it up with James Madison and the rest of the framers of the Constiution.

    Those framers established a process for impeachment and removal of the President. That’s the only remedy appropriate to a nation that respects the rule of law. The framers never anticipated a special counsel and they never intended for a hack like Mueller to be able to investigate the President at the behest of an elite and arrogant band of swamp dwellers.

    What this is really about is a war between a group of elite Americans who have been screwing ordinary people for decades and working people who have finally had enough of the Muellers, Wedgewoods and all their colleagues in government, journalism and academia.

    Suggesting any of this has to do with the rule of law is simply stupid.

    • D4x

      One could opine that James Madison was aware of “the famous and celebrated common-law precedent of Bushel’s Case, [and] Lord Edward Coke”.

      Delicious irony: the Wikipedia entry on Lord Edward Coke is too dense to read tonight, with no mention of Bushell’s case or Bushel’s case, so I skipped to the end: “Coke made a fortune from purchasing estates with clouded titles at a discount, whereupon, through his knowledge of the intricacies of property law, he would clear the titles on the acquired properties to his favor. About the year 1615, his amassed property acquisitions attracted the attention of the government. James I claimed that Coke “had already as much land as it was proper a subject should possess.” ”

      The “insults” Ruth Wedgewood ” dreams up” are in using nuanced references, e.g., the title of her essay; the elevation of “famous and celebrated common-law precedent of Bushel’s Case” to “inalienable rights” status; etcetera …
      When faced with literate deplorables, the elitists rely on trying to make us feel stupid, to silence us.
      They can not tolerate those who escaped their echo chamber.

      • WigWag

        “This is a matter that every President must keep in mind. If he or she is thought to have deliberately breached the fundamental legal guarantees of the Constitution and the common law, the matter passes to the House for consideration of articles of impeachment and to the Senate for trial.” (Ruth Wedgwood)

        Perhaps the erudite Professor Wedgwood can remind us exactly how many American Presidents have been removed from office by the Senate after impeachment in the House. I wouldn’t get my hopes up to much if I were her.

        After imposing a dystopian reality on many millions of Americans and, in many cases, literally destroying their lives, its rich to hear elites like Wedgwood pining for the impeachment of Trump.

        Don’t they realize that the election of Trump represents the impeachment of the elites by the American working class?

        It’s remarkable how clueless the Wedgwood’s of the world are. They view themselves as educated, civilized patriots. Tens of millions of Americans have reached a different conclusion. In flyover country these elites are viewed as selfish, arrogant rats.

        • D4x

          They may be educated, but they are not patriots, as defined “a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.”

          I hesitate to use “The Wedgewoods” as a metaphor for the global elite, if only because Ruth married a genuine Wedgewood, descended from potters.

          I know you don’t live in flyover country WigWag. I lived on the UWS for 14 years, then the tony close-in suburbs.

          Since I moved back south, I have met many well-educated people, who also voted to impeach the fundamental transformation of America.

          Time to eat my antibiotic-free fried chicken, as I face my future driving a Chevrolet, while reading “Theodore Rex” 🙂

          Today, at Trader Joe’s, I met a former Baptist minister who attends Chabad, He was wearing a kippah, and I politely asked if he was Falasha…flyover country is not as it appears…

        • Ruth Wedgwood

          To Mr. WigWag — one can be a law professor and still be fully familiar with the fate of the American working class. Put to report that my father was the general counsel of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union for 25 years, attempting to protect American working people from the export of their jobs overseas to employers who paid only a fraction of what used to be paid in America.

          • WigWag

            All four of my grandparents were members of the ILGWU, Professor Wedgwood. As I’m sure you know, that union doesn’t exist any more. Neither does Unite, the union formed when the ILGWU merged with the ACTWU.

            The reason for their demise is simple, the needle trades basically no longer exist in the United States. Thanks to the Democrats and Republicans in DC, the garment industry became non-viable in the United States.

            To the extent that there are still a few shops left, they are mostly manned by undocumented immigrants from Central and South America and Asia who often work for sub minimum wages. That’s also the fault of the uniparty who welcomed these immigrants with open arms.

            All of this is really too bad. The sons, daughters and grandchildren of those garment workers who toiled in the early 20th century often went on to become upper-middle class or wealthy skilled professionals; some might have became federal prosecutors or even law professors.

            Of course, many of those professionals have forgotten where they came from. What’s particularly sad is that the children of roofers, house painters, pipe fitters and miners no longer have a path into the middle class because America’s bipartisan elites have stacked the deck to benefit themselves at the expense of working people.

            Trump was elected to destroy the bipartisan consensus which has destroyed the prospects for millions of working Americans. It’s no wonder that America’s elite are fighting back with the tool they always rely on; a perverted appeal to our legal system. Whatever it is, it isn’t justice, it’s a naked misuse of the courts for political means. Like in Venezuela, Professor Wedgwood or in China. To put it another way, Mueller’s investigation is nothing more than an attempted coup at the behest of the elites who dwell in the D.C. swamp.

            Surely as the daughter of a labor leader you grew up on your dad’s knee singing that old song “Which Side Are You On.”

            Which side are you on, Professor Wedgwood?

          • D4x

            To Professor Wedgwood: With all due respect, your voice would be better employed if you had explored the historical Constitutional issues of the conflict between Congress and POTUS’s official Signing Statement, re: the sanctions legislation:


            SEC. 254. Coordinating aid and assistance across Europe and Eurasia

            (a) Authorization of appropriations.—There are authorized to be appropriated for the Countering Russian Influence Fund $250,000,000 for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.


            POTUS’ official signing statement:

            “Further, certain provisions, such as sections 254 and 257, purport to direct my subordinates in the executive branch to undertake certain diplomatic initiatives, in contravention of the President’s exclusive constitutional authority to determine the time, scope, and objectives of international negotiations.”


            [Sec 257 is Ukrainian Energy Security, the sanction making Germany & Europeans so angry]

            By instead speculating on “the legality of the Trump family’s business affairs in Russia?” in what is crafted as a scholarly/historical exposition of Article II, section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, you reveal yourself as one who has not accepted the legitimacy of the 2016 presidential election.

            Also, if you really cared about your father’s legacy to “protect American working people from the export of their jobs overseas”, you could have used your privileged platform at TAI to explore why one million manufacturing jobs migrated to Canada after NAFTA, because Canadian worker’s hourly labor cost does NOT include employer-paid medical insurance. 2008 would have been a good time to explore that.

            McCain’s plan, regardless of whether he understood it or not, was to delink medical insurance from employment. The Democratic Party’s complete failure to understand that in 2008, and 2009, was truly deplorable, because that failure led us to the insanity that that is now destroying whatever internal cohesion, or external credibility America retains after sixteen to twenty-four years of truly NOTcreative destruction of what once was the office of the President of the United States of America, one nation, with liberty and justice for all.

            The American Interest might want to consider a redefinition, because most of these pages, with the exception of the now-absent Mr. Mead, are failing to set an example for “America’s conduct on the global stage”, are in a soloist echo chamber of “what American policy should be”, and set a poor example of “Americans have much to learn from the experience and perspectives of others”.

          • D4x

            Franklin Foer was the last gasp of sanity at The New Republic. His conclusion of the takeover of TNR is surprisingly weak:

            For the next meeting of the TAI Editorial Board:


  • Fat_Man

    More Anti-Trump hysteria over something that hasn’t happened yet, and may never happen.

    BTW. The pardon power is not judicial in nature. it cannot be cabined by rules appropriate to the judiciary. It is a free power that is not part of the rule of law and lies beyond laws’ boundaries.

    Also. Did Wedgwood complain when Clinton pardoned Marc Rich? If she didn’t, she has nor right to complain now.

    • Ruth Wedgwood

      Wedgwood did indeed complain when Clinton pardoned Marc Rich. And then some !

      • Fat_Man

        Good for you. Now back to the anti-Trump hysteria.

        Chill out. nothing has happened yet.

  • Arkeygeezer

    “…. if serious questions were raised and conclusions drawn about the legality of the Trump family’s business affairs in Russia? Could the tip of a pardon pen really be used to avoid any liability?”

    You folks are indulging yourselves again in the dream of impeaching President Trump on whatever flimsy grounds you can find. Keep dreaming guys, while the President goes about his business of draining the swamp.

  • Gary Hemminger

    Or you can say that Trump has been treated unfairly from the start and so must resort to the pardon power to mitigate the effects of this unfair treatment. I am 56 years old, do not like Trump, did not vote for Trump, but my eyes and ears cannot help but notice the outright treachery that is being imposed upon his administration by the out of control progressives, and the “make no changes” republicans. I cannot help but think that the leaks and the lies of the media are for one purpose: to push Trump out no matter what. I do not trust Trump, but I have not trusted any president in my lifetime. What I really don’t trust is the progressives. I think they are bad for the country and the more they rail against Trump the more I support Trump.

  • Boritz

    “Distress” is deleting 30,000 emails before the authorities can examine them, or would be if we had a single tier justice system, i.e. a justice system. Instead we focus on what someone might be ‘flirting’ with. If one must do this then the North Koreans flirting with hydrogen bombs and ICBMs would seem to be a more pressing outlet.

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