2020-12-19 04:08:31 UTC
President Donald Trump will not pardon his family members or close allies
because of the legal risks it might pose for himself, his former lawyer and
fixer has said.
In deciding how to exercise his clemency powers in the final weeks of his
presidency, Michael Cohen told Vanity Fair that the president would not be
dictated by sentiment, rather "the first thing that Donald Trump is
evaluating... is 'what's in it for me?'"
Trump has already granted clemency to Roger Stone and his former national
security advisor Michael Flynn. The New York Times reported that Trump has asked
advisers about "preemptively" pardoning his three eldest children. There is
further speculation over whether Trump might use his pardon powers to protect
himself and his associates.
But Cohen, who was jailed in 2018 for arranging payments to silence women who
claimed to have affairs with Trump, said he doubted that the president would use
his clemency powers to help his nearest and dearest.
"Will Donald Trump pardon Rudy Giuliani? Will he pardon Steve Bannon? Will he
pardon Don Jr, Eric, Ivanka, Jared? Here's my answer: No," Cohen told the Inside
The Hive podcast.
"Donald Trump cares for no one or for anything except for himself... that
includes his own children. Donald Trump will only do what benefits Donald
Cohen said that if Trump pre-pardoned his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has not
been charged with any crime, Kushner would lose his Fifth Amendment right
"That means that Jared could be compelled to testify in a court of law or even
have to appear before a hearing before Congress," he said, adding that the
questions asked of him would be "against Donald Trump."
"So Donald is now thinking in his head, 'if I give this guy the pass to keep his
ass out of prison, he may be putting mine in,'" Cohen said, "so the question
again becomes, 'if I give somebody a pardon, how can it hurt me more than help
His view chimes with a conclusion of a paper by University of Missouri legal
professor Frank O. Bowman III published last month, which said that a pardon
"erases the Fifth Amendment privilege."
This actually "might make it easier for criminal and civil investigative
authorities and Congress to compel testimony from the person pardoned," the
Legal experts disagree on whether pardons by Trump, including a pre-emptive one
for himself, would be considered an admission of guilt in court.
Pardons would not provide cover for state-level court cases and Cohen referred
to some of the legal challenges that Trump faces when he leaves office. These
include an investigation by the New York attorney general into allegations that
the president and associates inflated assets to get tax benefits.
Cohen, who worked with the president from 2006 to 2018, is suing the Trump
Organization for nearly $2 million in legal bills during his cooperation into
probes by special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional committees, The New
York Post reported. Cohen claims Trump's company agreed to indemnify him for the
By the end of last month, Trump had granted 44 pardons, which actually was the
lowest number of any president since at least William McKinley, according to Pew
Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.