An anonymously-sourced rumor was put forward recently by The Washington Post asserting that President Donald Trump, desperate to see substantial progress on the border wall prior to the 2020 election, offered to provide pardons to any administration official who ran afoul of the law in the effort to get the barrier built as soon as possible.
An unnamed official in that report said that the president was “joking” when he made that one-time offer, and Trump himself dismissed the report as “fake news,” but that didn’t stop the Trump-hating liberal media and the president’s rabid critics from taking the report seriously and, in at least one instance, insisting that the alleged pardon offer was in and of itself an impeachable offense.
Emoluments, profits, and benefits…oh my!
Mediaite reported that Richard Painter, a staunch critic of the president who also served as an ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration, told MSNBC that President Trump should be impeached and even jailed if the report on the offered pardons turned out to be true.
Painter’s remarks on the pardons came as he was arguing that Trump needed to be investigated and impeached over alleged violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, particularly with respect to reports that the president wanted to host the next G7 economic summit at his Doral golf resort in Florida.
Asked about the House Judiciary Committee’s announced intent to investigate the president’s comments about hosting the summit at one of his properties, Painter replied, “It’s about time. They should have been investigating all of the illegal, unconstitutional emoluments, profits and benefits, that this president is receiving from foreign governments.”
“He’s been receiving them through the Trump empire ever since he became president in January 2017, and he’s been in violation of the Constitution,” he said. “And now he is so brazen that he’s going out and soliciting emoluments, profits and benefits, unconstitutional, illegal, from the other members of the G7.”
Painter wants impeachment
“He should be impeached for that. So this investigation should have happened a long time ago, and if they do not proceed with impeachment, he’s just gonna keep breaking the law,” Painter said.
“We just heard he’s telling his subordinates to go ahead and break the law building the wall and he’ll give them a pardon. That in itself should lead to impeachment, his conviction, putting him in jail if he actually did that,” he continued.
“It’s just gonna go on and on if he isn’t shut down by the House of Representatives in an impeachment proceeding,” Painter added.
It has yet to be independently confirmed by anybody on record that Trump ever did truly suggest he would grant pardons to administration officials who might find themselves in a legal quandary by working to get the border wall constructed.
Even if he did broach the possibility of a pardon, it would undoubtedly have been done as a joke, as the unnamed source for The Post originally said. At least as of now, the First Amendment protects people — including the president — who make jokes, even if those jokes touch on sensitive or even legally questionable topics.
No matter what was in fact said with regard to pardons, no administration official has been criminally charged over border wall construction efforts, and no such pardons have been granted, so there is no actual impeachable “high crime or misdemeanor” here for Painter and the rest of Trump’s haters to be discussing in the first place.