What Trump is protecting his kids from

 

Before Donald Trump leaves the White House in January he is expected to grant a flurry of pardons to protect a number of people from criminal prosecution.

Yesterday it was revealed by several US media outlets that among a list of pre-emptive pardons he's currently mulling over are three of his children - Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr - and his son-in-law.

It's not exactly clear what all the pardons would be for if he goes ahead with them at this stage. However, Mr Trump's three eldest children have faced various legal entanglements over his presidency.

Mr Trump Jr had been under investigation over contact he had with Russians offering damaging information on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign and was never charged.

 

While Mr Mueller's team considered charging Trump campaign officials in connection to a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, Donald Jr. ultimately got off, not because he hadn't done anything wrong but because Mr Mueller concluded he didn't understand he was committing a crime.

Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner provided false information to federal authorities about his contacts with foreigners when applying for his security clearance - which can be charged as a federal crime - though the president gave him one anyway.

His wife and the president's daughter Ivanka hasn't been mentioned in any federal investigations, but she was mentioned as part of a Manhattan grand jury investigation.

It's important to point out that a presidential pardon in the US only sets aside the punishment for a federal crime, not local or state crimes.

In this case, state prosecutors sent subpoenas to the Trump Organisation after a New York Timesinvestigation into Mr Trump's tax returns.

The Times reported he that first disclosed he had taken $26 million in write-offs that came from fees he paid to consultants, including an apparent $747,000 fee that allegedly matched a payment disclosed by Ivanka.

There's no suggestion that Ivanka is under investigation. In a tweet, she said the probe was "harassment pure and simple".

She also sat for a deposition yesterday with investigators from the Washington DC attorney general's office as part of its lawsuit alleging the misuse of inaugural funds, according to a court filing seen by CNN.

The lawsuit alleges the US President's 2017 inauguration committee misused donor funds.

Back in January, the attorney general's office in Washington, DC sued the Trump Organisation and Presidential Inaugural Committee, accusing them of abusing more than US$1 million raised by non-profits by "grossly overpaying" for use of event space at the Trump hotel in Washington for the 2017 event and enriching the Trump family in the process.

A new court filing notes that Ivanka is the latest to be interviewed in the suit, after chairman of the inaugural committee, Tom Barrack, was deposed late last month.

 

Records from Ms Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, Mr Barrack and former inaugural committee deputy chairman Rick Gates have all been subpoenaed, the filing said.

The District of Columbia's attorney general, Karl Racine, has accused the inaugural committee - which raised an unprecedented US$107 million to host celebrations for Mr Trump's inauguration - of co-ordinating with the hotel's management and members of the President's family to arrange the events.

Meanwhile, Eric Trump was deposed under oath as part of a civil investigation by the New York State attorney general's office into whether the Trump Organisation defrauded tax authorities or lenders by inflating the value of certain assets. That again is a state investigation, so it wouldn't be covered by a federal pardon.

However, legal experts who spoke to the Washington Post said the pardons being mulled over by the president may be about protection from future threats after Joe Biden takes office.

They said the president's defence would be that he and his family were targets of unfair investigations from the outset of his presidency.

And, he would "almost certainly" claim that he was hoping to shield them from politically motivated probes.

US media also reported yesterday that Mr Trump has discussed a pre-emptive pardon with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Again, it is unclear what the pardon would be for.

Mr Giuliani, a former New York City mayor credited with bringing the city through the 9/11 terror attack in 2001, has not been charged with any federal crime.

The lawyer was, however, under investigation recently from federal prosecutors over his business dealings in Ukraine.

He also allegedly played a part in outsing the American ambassador in Ukraine, which formed part of the impeachment of Mr Trump.

Mr Giuliani did not respond to a message seeking comment but did issue a swift denial on Twitter.

Mr Giuliani's lawyer, Robert Costello, told The New York Times: "He's not concerned about this investigation, because he didn't do anything wrong and that's been our position from day one."

Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who wrote the original story, replied to Mr Giuliani's denial on Twitter.

She also disputed his denial that he hadn't requested $20,000 a day from the Trump campaign.

"It was in writing," she said.

There is also public discussion of Mr Trump issuing a pardon for himself, for any crimes he might be charged with related to his time in office - though the legality of that has never been tested.

Presidential pardons are a common feature of the final days of a US leader's office.

Mr Trump has agreed to leave the White House on January 20, paving the way for president-elect Joe Biden.

 

A pre-emptive pardon is rare but has happened before.

Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon for all his actions as president and Jimmy Carter pardoned the thousands of Americans who illegally avoided the draft for the Vietnam War.

The reports come a week after Mr Trump pardoned Michael Flynn, the former security Adviser whose lies about his Russian contacts spurred the troubling investigation into Trump campaign collusion with Moscow.

The pardon, which was expected, was the first of several possible pardons that analysts think the President could extend to political aides and allies before he steps down on January 20.

Those could include former 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort, also convicted in the Russia collusion investigation, Mr Giuliani, former Adviser Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, whose prison sentence for lying and witness tampering the President already commuted.

Originally published as What Trump is protecting his kids from



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