CNN host S.E. Cupp lamented presidential pardon powers on Thursday, suggesting that President Donald Trump’s pardon of his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was an abuse.
In addition, Cupp said in an interview on her network that Trump would likely issue more pardons on his way out of the White House if his campaign’s legal efforts alleging widespread vote fraud are unsuccessful and Democrat rival Joe Biden takes office.
The host also claimed that Trump could pardon himself, which is a familiar refrain from mainstream journalists, though she didn’t say why the president would even need a self-pardon since he hasn’t been charged with, or convicted of, any crimes.
In her interview with network host Boris Sanchez, Cupp began noting she is regularly critical of President Trump, but added that he isn’t the only one who she feels has abused the constitutional pardon power.
“I actually think it’s time to look at the power of the pardon, not because of what Donald Trump is doing, but because for decades if not centuries, and in fact over multiple, administrations, the power of the pardon has been abused,” she said.
“So where Donald Trump has taken pardons today and may take them over the next few weeks, months, is almost inevitable,” she continued before referencing “Pardongate” — when then-President Bill Clinton issued scores of pardons for more than 100 people, “some of whom were donors and friends.”
They included Susan McDougal, who was connected to the Whitewater scandal; Clinton’s brother Roger; and Marc Rich, a billionaire financier and businessman who was a fugitive from justice at the time (Rich died in Switzerland in 2013).
“That was almost indefensible,” Cupp continued. “And, sort of, where Trump is today is sort of the next logical conclusion of this power. We should start taking a look at whether it is being used and has been used over decades the way the Founders intended it.”
Sanchez then noted that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), said in a tweet that “President Trump should pardon Flynn, the Thanksgiving turkey, and everyone from himself, to his admin, to Joe Exotic if he has to.”
But, he added: “The Left has a bloodlust that will only be quenched if they come for those who fought with @realDonaldTrump to deliver for the American people.”
President Trump should pardon Flynn, the Thanksgiving turkey, and everyone from himself, to his admin, to Joe Exotic if he has to.
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) November 25, 2020
Asked to respond to the president potentially pardoning himself, Cupp said that “would be unadvisable because it’s an admission that you’ve done something wrong.”
“If the president has designs on running again for president, this would certainly imperil that, and I would think encourage other Justice departments to really look at what he had done while in office,” she said.
“If he is tacitly admitting he needed to be pardoned for stuff. I’m not sure this is constitutional or legal, but it seems pretty clear it would be unadvisable for him to do that,” Cupp said.
Trump pardoned Flynn on Thanksgiving Eve.
“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon. Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!” The president wrote on Twitter.
Earlier this month, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig said Trump, as president, could pardon himself as he also predicted several more people would be getting one as well.
“I’m sure Michael Flynn, I’m sure he’s going to pardon Michael, Paul Manafort, and George Papadopoulos, even though the latter two have already served their time, just to make a point, just as a final, you know, finger in the eye of Robert Mueller,” Honig said.
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