Donald Trump’s ability to pardon Donald Trump is one thing. But his recent pardon of racist ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio seems to be a clear signal that Trump is not only ready to feed his white supremacist fan base, but willing to to throw around his pardon power with abandon. That raises the possibility that the investigation headed by special counsel Robert Mueller could become a revolving door where every person indicted for their involvement in conspiracy, cover up, and obstruction is given a free pass to thumb their nose at justice.
It may happen. But that doesn’t mean it will save Trump or anyone else.
Even mass pardons of all suspects in the Russia case would not close the door to potential prosecutions.
While presidential pardons can halt the federal case, local prosecutors could then pursue any Americans suspected of aiding Russia’s election meddling. In fact, legal experts say presidential pardons could make that prospect more likely.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has already been looking into Trump’s Russia connection for months.
Schneiderman … effectively leads a law firm of more than 650 lawyers, one with a two-decade tradition of taking its fights national.
Even if Trump can wave federal charges away, he can’t make the evidence disappear. In many cases, state attorneys general could turn around and file charges against Trump’s cronies. And it goes way past Schneiderman.
The most likely places are New York, Virginia and Illinois, three states where there is evidence that election-related crimes occurred … Beyond the three main states, the legal arguments for potential criminal jurisdiction are even broader, extending to many of the 39 states that were subject to Russian hacking.