Anytime the investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller is mentioned, someone will inevitably bring up the so-called “wild card”: But what if President Trump starts handing out pardons? Wouldn’t that mean that all of Mueller’s hard work had been for nothing?
“Part of the deal says that if Manafort’s guilty pleas or convictions are wiped out for any reason, prosecutors immediately have the right to charge him with any other crimes he may have committed previously or confessed to during recent plea negotiations.”
So even if Manafort gets a pardon, he still isn’t in the clear. And even if Trump were to issue more pardons to Manafort, there’s still one tiny loophole that would sink the president’s attempt to silence Manafort and protect himself from any damaging testimony: Charges in the state of New York.
We already know that the New York Attorney General’s office is looking at the Trump Organization, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Jared Kushner. They may also be investigating the president for crimes he may have committed while he was still at the helm of his company.
Additionally, even if Trump does hand out pardons to Manafort, his former attorney Michael Cohen, or even members of his family, the problem of testimony remains.
Let’s assume that Trump gives a pardon to Manafort. Manafort would be spared from having to serve any time and his crimes would also be scrubbed from his record, but he would still have to testify and could not claim a Fifth Amendment privilege, because he’s not in danger of incriminating himself when he’s already been pardoned.
Even Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, who has often been critical of the Mueller investigation, admitted recently that the fact Manafort admitted to many state crimes means a presidential pardon would only place him in a new form of legal jeopardy.
It’s been said many times before but bears repeating: Robert Mueller is playing chess; Trump and his “legal team” are playing tiddlywinks.