Presidential Pardons: Will The President Play The Ultimate Trump Card?

Donald Trump hasn't issued any pardons to combat the Russia investigation... yet!
Donald Trump hasn't issued any pardons to combat the Russia investigation... yet! Photo by Donkey Hotey (Flickr) [CC License].
  • A number of Trump’s top associates could be facing serious jail time. Will he save them with a Presidential pardon?
  • Will Michael Flynn share the dirt he has on the Trump campaign?
  • Will Paul Manafort cut a deal with investigators to prevent spending the rest of his days behind bars?

What do you do when a “witch hunt” actually exposes a bunch of witches?

That’s a question Donald Trump will have to contend with as the Russia investigation uncovers the criminal activity of those in the President’s inner circle. So far, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has already pleaded guilty to making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI; former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is currently under house arrest, staring down charges of conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, and failure to report foreign bank accounts; and the walls seem to be closing in on Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has been less-than-transparent about his business dealings.

Donald Trump’s personal lawyer is under investigation for bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations.

Most recently, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, had his home and office raided by the FBI. He’s currently under investigation for bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations.

Unless Trump starts issuing Presidential pardons, there’s a good chance a number of his associates will face serious jail time. It wouldn’t be a good look for Trump, who has been quick to distance himself from those brought down by the investigation, but there may come a point where he steps in and bails out his friends.

Odds to be pardoned by Donald Trump

Person Odds
Michael Cohen 6/1

The FBI recently raided Michael Cohen’s office, home, and hotel room, and seized records related to Cohen’s payment to porn-star Stormy Daniels, who allegedly had an affair with Trump. The payment may have violated campaign finance laws and could spell serious trouble for the lawyer.

Cohen reportedly offered $130,000 of his own money to Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence. It’s a strange scenario — a lawyer giving up his own money to protect his client — but that’s the story they’ve given us. Whatever the truth is, Cohen has clearly taken a bullet for Trump.

Cohen was Trump’s personal lawyer long before Trump ventured into politics, and if there are any bones, Cohen knows where they are buried.

Trump responded by calling the raid an “attack on our country” and “an attack on what we all stand for.” Cohen was Trump’s personal lawyer long before Trump ventured into politics, and if there are any bones, Cohen knows where they are buried.

Person Odds
Michael Flynn 9/1

Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents in December, and is now believed to be cooperating with the Special Counsel’s investigation. Trump urged then-FBI director James Comey to stop investigating Flynn, telling him privately, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy.

The FBI did not “let Flynn go,” and now the former National Security Advisor is rumored to be cooperating with the investigation. Flynn could have some serious dirt on the Trump campaign, and a pardon may be the only thing that could stop the former Trump ally from squealing.

When pressed on a Flynn pardon in December, Trump replied, “I don’t want to talk about pardons with Michael Flynn yet.”

Yet!

Person Odds
Paul Manafort 15/1

Paul Manafort is facing a 305-year prison sentence if it all goes wrong for him. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him, and is currently fighting back with everything he has. However, things haven’t been going his way.

Manafort could spend the rest of his days behind bars… or he could potentially cut a deal with the investigators, turn on Trump, and save himself.

Manafort could spend the rest of his days behind bars… or he could potentially cut a deal with the investigators, turn on Trump, and save himself. Pardoning Manafort would remove that threat, and it would also assure Trump’s allies that they’re in safe hands.

Person Odds
Jared Kushner 20/1

Like his father-in-law, Jared Kushner has some pretty shady business dealings. The Saudi crown prince has claimed that the senior advisor was “in his pocket”, and his business dealings in China and Israel have prompted investigations from a financial watchdog. On top of that, Kushner was present when a group of Trump associates met secretly with a Russian lawyer who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Trump appointed his daughter Ivanka and Kushner to senior advisory roles, despite the couple’s complete lack of political experience. If the investigation takes down Kushner, Trump may be quick to bail him out.

Person Odds
Donald Trump Jr 25/1

Now for Trump’s actual son. Don Jr was also present at the meeting with the Russian lawyer. In fact, he was the one who set it all up. He’s changed his story several times regarding the meeting, and each time it gets a little worse.

It seems unlikely that Robert Mueller will charge Don Jr, at least at this point in the investigation, but if he does, Trump will likely save his son at all costs.