Trump's Response to Hillary's Crimes Portends Disaster

More than a month before he will take office or been briefed by the FBI, Donald Trump has announced that he has no interest in pursuing the Clintons for their crimes.  The deep sigh of relief from Beltway insiders from all corners could be heard from Manhattan to the shores of the Potomac River.

The inevitable comparison by conservative Beltway pundits like Charles Krauthammer is with Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon.  The normally wise Krauthammer misses several vital points.

The pardon of Nixon did not prevent the successful prosecution of many of his underlings.  If Trump means that everyone connected with Hillary's crimes except for her will face the full measure of our nation's criminal laws for offenses committed at her behest or on her behalf, then that is a very different matter from the way his statement has been interpreted so far. 

On the other hand, if Trump means that as with Watergate, America needs to put the Clinton crimes behind us, then he is being vastly more lax than Democrats were – or, for that matter, than Gerald Ford was – with Watergate.  The crimes of Nixon and his cronies were put behind us only for Nixon and only after he had been forced to resign as president – and Nixon had been President Nixon, not just candidate Nixon.

President Nixon was also pardoned by the Republican President Gerald Ford, the man Nixon chose as his vice president after Agnew resigned.  The political fallout – and there ought to have been political fallout for the pardon of a disgraced ex-president – was rightly borne by his own political party.  Obama could pardon Hillary and everyone else involved and that would put the scandals behind us, but that would enable Republicans to continue to investigate the crimes. 

If Trump elects to ignore Hillary's crimes, then he is doing the dirty work Democrats, who have defended Hillary throughout the election, ought to be made to do.  If the Democrat leadership and Hillary want to confess that she and her team did dishonest and illegal acts, that is one thing, but that, of course, is not what is going to happen.  Instead, Democrats will say:  "See, even Trump did not really believe that Hillary was a crook."

Trump ought not to bargain away the prosecutorial power he will soon gain without knowing everything that has really happened.  Moreover, Trump ought to make sure that the American people learn all the sordid, seedy details of Hillary's crimes and the misdeeds of her supporters in government.  The threat of prosecution of underlings is a potent means of forcing the tight-lipped to come clean.

What Hillary Clinton and Lois Lerner and the rest have done is worse than Watergate.  They used the power of the government to harass and torment innocent Americans, they lied repeatedly under oath, and they obstructed justice at almost every turn. 

How are we going to find the missing IRS emails or Hillary's deleted emails if the new president wishes to ignore these crimes?  How can the American people know if reforms intended to correct abuses we have learned generally about will work if we do not even know the details of those abuses?  The Watergate reforms in government in the legal profession were possible precisely because we know the extent and nature of the wrongdoings. 

The answer, of course, is to pardon everyone involved, provided that they completely confess their culpability and apologize to those they have harmed as well as to the American people for all the dishonest and wicked things that they have done: confession and repentance before forgiveness and pardon.  

What Donald Trump seems to be saying (we ought to hope he is not saying this) is that there is one set of rulers for those who are powerful and rich and that there is another set of rules for ordinary Americans.  What makes this most poignant is that the ordinary folks of Flyover Country just elected him as their champion.  If he loses that trust, then President Trump will never be able to regain it.

More than a month before he will take office or been briefed by the FBI, Donald Trump has announced that he has no interest in pursuing the Clintons for their crimes.  The deep sigh of relief from Beltway insiders from all corners could be heard from Manhattan to the shores of the Potomac River.

The inevitable comparison by conservative Beltway pundits like Charles Krauthammer is with Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon.  The normally wise Krauthammer misses several vital points.

The pardon of Nixon did not prevent the successful prosecution of many of his underlings.  If Trump means that everyone connected with Hillary's crimes except for her will face the full measure of our nation's criminal laws for offenses committed at her behest or on her behalf, then that is a very different matter from the way his statement has been interpreted so far. 

On the other hand, if Trump means that as with Watergate, America needs to put the Clinton crimes behind us, then he is being vastly more lax than Democrats were – or, for that matter, than Gerald Ford was – with Watergate.  The crimes of Nixon and his cronies were put behind us only for Nixon and only after he had been forced to resign as president – and Nixon had been President Nixon, not just candidate Nixon.

President Nixon was also pardoned by the Republican President Gerald Ford, the man Nixon chose as his vice president after Agnew resigned.  The political fallout – and there ought to have been political fallout for the pardon of a disgraced ex-president – was rightly borne by his own political party.  Obama could pardon Hillary and everyone else involved and that would put the scandals behind us, but that would enable Republicans to continue to investigate the crimes. 

If Trump elects to ignore Hillary's crimes, then he is doing the dirty work Democrats, who have defended Hillary throughout the election, ought to be made to do.  If the Democrat leadership and Hillary want to confess that she and her team did dishonest and illegal acts, that is one thing, but that, of course, is not what is going to happen.  Instead, Democrats will say:  "See, even Trump did not really believe that Hillary was a crook."

Trump ought not to bargain away the prosecutorial power he will soon gain without knowing everything that has really happened.  Moreover, Trump ought to make sure that the American people learn all the sordid, seedy details of Hillary's crimes and the misdeeds of her supporters in government.  The threat of prosecution of underlings is a potent means of forcing the tight-lipped to come clean.

What Hillary Clinton and Lois Lerner and the rest have done is worse than Watergate.  They used the power of the government to harass and torment innocent Americans, they lied repeatedly under oath, and they obstructed justice at almost every turn. 

How are we going to find the missing IRS emails or Hillary's deleted emails if the new president wishes to ignore these crimes?  How can the American people know if reforms intended to correct abuses we have learned generally about will work if we do not even know the details of those abuses?  The Watergate reforms in government in the legal profession were possible precisely because we know the extent and nature of the wrongdoings. 

The answer, of course, is to pardon everyone involved, provided that they completely confess their culpability and apologize to those they have harmed as well as to the American people for all the dishonest and wicked things that they have done: confession and repentance before forgiveness and pardon.  

What Donald Trump seems to be saying (we ought to hope he is not saying this) is that there is one set of rulers for those who are powerful and rich and that there is another set of rules for ordinary Americans.  What makes this most poignant is that the ordinary folks of Flyover Country just elected him as their champion.  If he loses that trust, then President Trump will never be able to regain it.