Unbeknownst to most of the nation, a significant portion of the Alt-Right movement has been urging Trump to pardon everyone involved in the Russian scandal, including a pardon for Trump himself. As reported by Politico today:
“I think he should be pardoning anybody who’s been indicted and make it clear that anybody else who gets indicted would be pardoned immediately,” said Frederick Fleitz, a former CIA analyst and senior vice president at the conservative Center for Security Policy.
It is unclear whether Mr. Fleitz is unknowingly advocating for an American dictatorship, or whether he believes wholeheartedly in extra-constitutional fascism when a Republican is president. But, he is not alone, apparently conservatives believe that being investigated and prosecuted for criminal behavior while also being a Republican is something bordering on a war crime, that humanity calls for intervention:
“It’s kind of cruel what’s going on right now and the president should put these defendants out of their misery,” said Larry Klayman, a conservative legal activist. “I think he should pardon everybody — and pardon himself.”
Ironic that Klayman calls himself a “conservative legal activist” when advocating for the most liberal interpretation of the pardon clause and the biggest government resolution of the investigation, that and the fact that the word “legal” loses all meaning when one advocates for the iron-fisted rule on the whim of lawless tyrants. Moreover, Mr. Klayman did not specify which part he considered “cruel.” Certainly, knowing that one is under serious police scrutiny is not pleasant, can be damned expensive, and yet just as certainly we know that one cure is to not engage in behavior that attracts investigators’ attention, and we know that had President Obama issued a blanket pardon to Hillary due to the inhumane investigation into her emails, Mr. Klayman would likely not have been applauding President Obama’s humanitarian gesture. This is nothing more than people who are furious at having to explain themselves or account for their behavior.
Loose talk of pardons impacts the investigation. There likely is no more central figure to all things “collusion” than Michael Flynn, former General, former interest in Cambridge Analytica, former Putin dining companion and former Trump aide who assured Russians that the sanctions will be taken care of upon the installation of comrade Trump. The Flynn family is openly advocating for a pardon.
“About time you pardoned General Flynn who has taken the biggest fall for all of you given the illegitimacy of this confessed crime in the wake of all this corruption,” Flynn’s brother, Joseph Flynn, wrote in a mid-December tweet. “Pardon Flynn NOW!” he added in a later message.
It would be difficult for Trump to make a more dangerous move than pardoning Flynn, especially at this point. Flynn undoubtedly has knowledge of facts that the Special Counsel’s office needs to evaluate Trump’s culpability. But, Mueller’s office cannot possibly force Flynn to be forthcoming if Flynn believes that he can get a better “deal” out of Trump through a pardon. It is likely that a pardon for Flynn would be less about Flynn and more about protecting Trump. One point should be beyond question; that the pardon power was never intended to be a tool by which the president could further himself or herself in the process.
Only Richard Nixon ever considered pardoning people with this sort of brazen disregard for the idea that laws applied to everyone. If Trump starts unleashing pardons as a “getaway plan” this nation will be in an extra-constitutional crises because it does not appear that Republicans in congress have the integrity to adhere to constitutional principles when a Republican sits in the White House, particularly this Republican. The “check” on unlimited power put in place by the founders is not “in-check.”
That the Alt-Right has fascist tendencies doesn’t shock us, but that they are already advocating for action that would truly render the constitutional balance of powers irrelevant, does at least make non-sycophants uneasy. Because, in the end, what will happen depends upon Trump’s judgment, a dangerous proposition. We have yet to see an instance that I can name where Trump put the country’s well-being ahead of his own well-being, where he did what was “right” even though it hurt him personally. With such priorities, anything can happen.