White collar crime expert: Trump's latest pardon offer may be criminal bribery

So did you hear the one about the president who dangled pardons in front of people in order to more quickly get his vanity wall project built?

Hilarious, right?

The White House claimed it was a joke, anyway. (Your president is an irretrievably corrupt sack of suet and rage who comports himself like a mob boss. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!)

However, Randall D. Eliason, who teaches white-collar criminal law at George Washington University Law School, thinks it may very well have been a crime — one that could put him in legal jeopardy after he leaves office … or before that, through articles of impeachment.

Writing in The Washington Post, Eliason states, plainly, that “offering a pardon for such illegal acts could easily violate the federal bribery statute, 18 U.S.C. 201. That law makes it a crime to give, offer, or promise ‘anything of value’ to a federal public official to influence the official in the performance of an official act or induce the official to violate his or her lawful duty.” 

Okay, then … throw it on the pile.

Eliason continues:

The charge would be that Trump offered a pardon to public officials to influence the performance of official acts connected to building the wall or to induce the officials to violate their duties by breaking the law.

If there were evidence Trump made such a proposal, legally it wouldn’t matter whether the official actually ended up breaking the law or receiving a pardon. It wouldn’t even matter whether the official agreed to the proposal. The crime of bribery may be established simply upon proof of a corrupt offer.

Eliason notes that Trump could be convicted for this if prosecutors could prove corrupt intent — i.e., demonstrate that he wasn’t actually “joking.” The best evidence? Jokes are supposed to be presented in the form of a joke, and they’re typically funny, amusing, droll, titter-inducing, etc. I can never tell if Trump is joking, because while he’s always a clown, he’s incapable of making anyone with an IQ higher than freeze-dried smegma laugh with him as opposed to at him.

Either way, it sure looks like there’s something serious to investigate — and that something could theoretically land him in jail.

If there were compelling evidence that Trump did encourage aides to break the law and promised to pardon them, that sounds like bribery. That’s on top of other legal theories that also could implicate the president, including conspiracy or aiding and abetting any resulting crime. If the allegations turn out to be true, then before leaving office Trump may have yet another reason to confront an unresolved question concerning his pardon power: whether he can pardon himself.

Well, he’s sure not going to get a pardon from Elizabeth Warren. Trump better hope he wins — or can convince enough Democrats to vote for Tulsi Gabbard.

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