Trump could step down before term end ‘to allow Pence to pardon him’

The New York Attorney General has predicted that President Donald Trump could temporarily step down before the end of his term, allowing Vice President Pence to pre-emptively pardon him for federal crimes. 

AG Letitia James is currently carrying out a civil investigation into Trump’s businesses and their connections to Deutsch Bank and was appearing on ABC’s The View on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing probe into the Trump family’s business activities. 

She explained that while Trump may be able to pre-emptively pardon his family members and close associates, he can not pardon himself. 

‘He can preemptively pardon individuals, and the vast majority of legal scholars have indicated that he cannot pardon himself,’ James said. 

‘What he could do is step down and allow the vice president — Vice President Pence — to pardon him.’

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New York Attorney General told The View on Tuesday that Trump could temporarily step down before the end of his term, allowing VP Pence to pre-emptively pardon him for federal crimes

New York Attorney General told The View on Tuesday that Trump could temporarily step down before the end of his term, allowing VP Pence to pre-emptively pardon him for federal crimes

New York Attorney General told The View on Tuesday that Trump could temporarily step down before the end of his term, allowing VP Pence to pre-emptively pardon him for federal crimes

President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

Vice President Mike Pence

Vice President Mike Pence

The potential scenario outlined by James, in which VP Pence (pictured right) would take over to allow President Trump (pictured left) to be pardoned, was laid out in a 1974 Department of Justice memo that stated former President Nixon ‘cannot pardon himself’

‘I suspect that he will pardon his family members, his children, his son-in-law, and individuals in his administration as well as some of his close associates,’ James also predicted.

‘And then I suspect, at some point in time, he will step down and allow the vice president to pardon him.’  

The scenario outlined by James, in which Pence would take over to allow Trump to be pardoned, was laid out in a 1974 Department of Justice memo that stated former President Nixon ‘cannot pardon himself,’ according to The Hill

‘If under the Twenty-Fifth Amendment the President declared that he was temporarily unable to perform the duties of the office, the Vice President would become Acting President and as such could pardon the President,’ read the memo. 

‘Thereafter the President could either resign or resume the duties of his office.’

However, while Trump may be able to secure a pardon for federal crimes, he cannot do so for crimes in New York state, James also added. 

It comes after New York lawmakers passed a bill last year, which James advocated for, that allows an individual to be pursued on state charges even if they have been pardoned of a federal crime.  

This may effect the Trump family if her civil investigation unearths any criminal activity and becomes a criminal case. 

‘It’s important to understand he is pardoned from federal crimes. But he is not pardoned from state crimes,’ James said. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James (pictured above) launched a civil investigation into the Trump Organization's financial dealings in March 2019 after the president's longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen told Congress that Trump had repeatedly inflated the value of his assets to obtain more favorable terms for loans and insurance coverage

New York Attorney General Letitia James (pictured above) launched a civil investigation into the Trump Organization's financial dealings in March 2019 after the president's longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen told Congress that Trump had repeatedly inflated the value of his assets to obtain more favorable terms for loans and insurance coverage

New York Attorney General Letitia James (pictured above) launched a civil investigation into the Trump Organization’s financial dealings in March 2019 after the president’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen told Congress that Trump had repeatedly inflated the value of his assets to obtain more favorable terms for loans and insurance coverage

‘Last year, I introduced a bill in the state legislature which would close the pardon loophole, so that individuals such as the President of the United States would not evade justice.  

‘It’s important we have this check on presidential powers. … the state legislature, I’m so happy they passed that bill and it is now the law in the state of New York. President Trump cannot avoid justice in the great state of New York,’ she added.   

James began investigating potential fraud in Trump’s business dealings in March 2019 after the president’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen told Congress that Trump had repeatedly inflated the value of his assets to obtain more favorable terms for loans and insurance coverage.  

Numerous properties were noted in the investigation, including some that were mentioned by Cohen.

Four of them were the Seven Springs estate in Bedford, New York; the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago; the Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles; and the 40 Wall Street building in Manhattan. 

At lease four properties are involved in James' civil investigation in New York state, including the Seven Springs estate in Bedford, New York (pictured). No criminal activity has been found

At lease four properties are involved in James' civil investigation in New York state, including the Seven Springs estate in Bedford, New York (pictured). No criminal activity has been found

At lease four properties are involved in James’ civil investigation in New York state, including the Seven Springs estate in Bedford, New York (pictured). No criminal activity has been found

Pictured: Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago

Pictured: Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago

Pictured: 40 Wall Street building in Manhattan

Pictured: 40 Wall Street building in Manhattan

The Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago (pictured left) and the 40 Wall Street building in Manhattan (pictured right) were among the subjects in James’ probe

Trump National Golf Club in LA (pictured) was also mentioned in the ongoing investigation

Trump National Golf Club in LA (pictured) was also mentioned in the ongoing investigation

Trump National Golf Club in LA (pictured) was also mentioned in the ongoing investigation

After Trump was elected president in November 2016, he announced that he would not be involved in day-to-day operations of the Trump Organization but would leave the responsibilities to his adult sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr. 

In October, Eric Trump was subpoenaed to answer questions under oath from the New York investigators. 

Eric appeared remotely and details regarding the types of questions and how long the deposition took were not immediately disclosed. 

The subpoena followed a New York Times examination of more than two decades of Trump’s tax records, which revealed he had paid little or no federal income taxes in most years. 

The report said that this was in part because of his chronic business losses. 

President Trump has accused James and New York’s Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of ‘harassing all of my New York businesses in search of anything at all they can find to make me look as bad as possible’ and he railed against the investigations as a ‘witch hunt’. 

James’ investigation has so far found no evidence of criminal activity. 

Eric Trump, pictured, participated in a deposition remotely in October as part of an ongoing investigation in New York state into the Trump Organizations financial dealings

Eric Trump, pictured, participated in a deposition remotely in October as part of an ongoing investigation in New York state into the Trump Organizations financial dealings

Eric Trump, pictured, participated in a deposition remotely in October as part of an ongoing investigation in New York state into the Trump Organizations financial dealings

The Manhattan’s district attorney is also pursuing a criminal case against the president which is being conducted independently of the civil case led by James.  

Manhattan District Attorney District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. has been seeking eight years of the Republican president’s personal and corporate tax records.  

Some Democrats, including Michael Conway, former counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee have already called on president-elect Joe Biden to pardon Trump once he takes office. 

‘If President-elect Joe Biden hopes to fulfill his pledge to unify the nation, he should do the unthinkable and pardon Donald Trump,’  Conway told NBC News

‘Trump would, of course, be one of the least deserving recipients of a federal pardon in history,’ he added. 

‘But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few good reasons to consider it anyway, Conway said, explaining that the pardon could be seen as an admission of guilt and would not eliminate Trump of being charged for state-level crimes. 

Biden has already indicated that he will not pardon Trump once he takes office on January 20.  

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