If President-Elect Joe Biden hopes to fulfill his pledge to unite the nation, he must do the unimaginable and unforgiving Donald Trump.
Trump would, of course, be one of the least qualified recipients of a federal pardon in history. His apology cannot be justified on the basis of his innocence or his plight because Trump is not the opposite; On the contrary, he is currently jeopardizing our democratic processes by undermining the legitimacy of Biden’s election and thwarting a peaceful transition.
No wonder Biden’s initial instinct was to oppose pardoning Trump. He actually pledged this option last May, stating that if he is elected, he will not forgive Trump.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some good reasons to consider it anyway.
First and foremost, the acceptance of a pardon by Trump – the Supreme Court in 1915 under opinion in Burdick v. United States – acknowledged that he was guilty of the crimes for which he is pardoned. Forgiveness may be the only way that Trump even explicitly admitted that he had done anything wrong.
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And a federal pardon would not eliminate all of Trump’s potential criminal exposure. The Supreme Court last year rejected a long-standing precedent that allows parallel state and federal prosecution based on similar facts.
Accepting federal apologies – particularly pardons for crimes that violate both federal and state laws – would be a double-edged sword for the president.
Therefore, a presidential pardon would not bar Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance from investigating and potentially prosecuting Trump and his company for offenses under state law. And his investigation has already led to a Supreme Court ruling this summer, rejecting Trump’s claim of immunity from criminal investigations while he was president.
Accepting federal apologies – particularly pardons for crimes that violate both federal and state laws – would be a double-edged sword for the president. And whatever the result of any state investigation or prosecution, it could not be placed at Biden’s door. It will not be his members investigating the former president, his recent political adversary; It will not prosecute its employees. In fact, an apology from Biden would mean that they could not.
Democrats already know what a mirror image of her looks like. When Trump invoked his political opponents, he was condemned as promoting the repulsive feature of banana republics. Despite Trump’s Department of Justice efforts, no basis for prosecuting his political rivals was found. Trump tried anyway; Biden, and perhaps, should be better than this.
American democracy cannot stand the indictment of political opponents.
But the justification for forgiveness can also be grounded in a higher purpose. The 73 million Americans who voted to re-elect Trump two weeks ago may have been angry about a good-faith federal investigation into Trump as he stepped down as his former political opponents about Trump’s baseless chanting of Democrats Were angry to shut down.
At this time, even after Trump’s presidency that Americans believe was divisive, surveys show that the overwhelming majority of Americans still believe that we have more in common with each other that sets us apart . There is an opportunity to rediscover our shared ground with each other – and the way forward is unrelated to the last four years in federal criminal court.
Like Ford, forgiving his predecessor would subject Biden to intense, sharp criticism.
A bedridden pardon of Trump, like the apology of former President Richard Nixon 46 years ago, would be to anticipate the possibility of an ongoing cycle of retaliation after the nation was healed and political parties changed control.
We have done this before.
After Nixon’s resignation at Watergate when Gerald Ford became president in August 1974, Ford told the nation that “our long national nightmare is over.” The following month, Ford pardoned Nixon for any crime as president – including his involvement in the Watergate coverup. .
Nixon did not deserve that pardon and, despite rumors to the contrary, Ford never promised to pardon Nixon for pardoning him. (Nixon’s White House considered the possibility of pardoning Nixon, Ford revealed in an interview with Merv Grinnin in 1979; Trump reportedly did the same.) In later testimony before Congress, Ford Reported that, with pardon, he “sought to shift.” Our quest for a fallen president is focused on the immediate needs of an emerging nation. “
Although Ford wanted to heal the wounds opened by Watergate, he was severely criticized for his actions. Ford’s narrow defeat of Jimmy Carter in the 1976 presidential election has often been attributed to reaction to the pardon.
Still, history has viewed forgiveness more favorably: In 2008, the John F. Kennedy Library selected Ford as the recipient of the “Profile in Courage” award for forgiving Nixon. Announcing the award, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. Said: “I was one of those people who then spoke out against their action. But time has a way of clarifying past events, and now we see that President Ford was right. “His courage and dedication to our country made it possible for us to begin the healing process,” Kennedy said.
Trump’s Biden pardon would be considered even more daring than Ford’s action – though, like Ford, forgiving his predecessor would make Biden the subject of intense, sharp criticism.
Ford was protecting his former boss and the leader of his party, while Biden was breaking a promise to pardon an inexplicable political opponent who spent his term destroying the legacy of the Obama-Biden administration.
But before our election climax, Biden’s pledge was to state how many Americans wanted Trump to hold office despite his misconduct (or election results). Clearly, a Biden administration investigation could, well, make the prosecution of Chloé Trump, a former president as a martyr for his millions of followers, adding another fuel to the current partisan division and even That can also cause civil unrest.
This could be appropriate and emotionally complete for Trump’s treatment as he often threatened to treat his own political opponents. But Biden made the case that he and the country would be better off. As a pardon many of us dissatisfied will sit with, this difficult decision would be a good way to begin offering the healing Biden.