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Professor Bowman: Abuse of Presidential Pardons Is An Impeachable Offense

December 3rd, 2018

Prof. Frank Bowman

In his recent op-ed in Slate, “Jerome Corsi and Donald Trump Are Playing With Fire,” Professor Frank Bowman writes that Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team are faced with a group of potential witnesses who do not respond to the formal rules and structure of criminal law. Recently, after negotiating a plea offer with Mueller, Jerome Corsi decided to reject the offer and leaked the document to the press (as well as President Trump’s office). Though there is no legal penalty for doing this, it runs the risk of angering prosecutors and leading to more charges being filed.

Professor Bowman writes that the individuals surrounding Trump could see these indictments as a way to stay in the news and perhaps improve their appeal as commentators and authors. And with the prospect of a presidential pardon, they may be less likely to worry about prison time or tarnished reputations. Even thinking that their “joint-defense agreements with Trump permit the sharing of information at least arguably under the shield of attorney-client privilege.”

Bowman continues, “I say arguably because of the peculiar position of Trump as president possessed of the pardon power. Attorney-client privilege does not cover communications in aid of the commission of a crime. Any discussion between Trump or his lawyers and persons like Corsi, or their lawyers, that took the form of, ‘This is what my client might say that inculpates the president and thus the president should issue a pardon’ would tread closely on both criminal obstruction of justice for anyone involved in such a conversation and an impeachable offense for the president.”

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