Jay Sekulow: Pardons Are Not on the Table, Sorta

Trump attorney, Jay Sekulow, was on ABC’s This Week and George Stephanopoulos raised the issue of pardons:


The president in that tweet stated something that is rather unremarkable, that is, under the Constitution, Article II, Section 2, the President has the authority to pardon. But, I want to be clear on this, George, we have not, and continue to have not, conversations with the President of the United States regarding pardons. Pardons have not been discussed and pardons are not on the table. With regard to the issue of a president pardoning himself, there’s a big academic discussion going on right now, an academic debate. You’ve got Professor Tribe arguing one point, you’ve got Professor Turley arguing another point, and while it makes for interesting academic discussions, let me tell you what the legal team is not doing. We’re not researching the issue, because the issue of pardons is not on the table. There is nothing to pardon from.


If you read this carefully, Sekulow’s long disclaimer follows this, “George, we have not, and continue to have not, conversations with the President of the United States regarding pardons.” Which might even be true. When he gets to the point of saying they are not researching pardons, he is referring to Trump pardoning himself.

But that isn’t what it sounds like. It sounds like he’s saying that no one on the White House legal team is looking at pardons because there is no reason to. Were that the case, Trump should fire the whole lot. It isn’t a lawyer’s (or doctor’s or engineer’s or ____) job to look at what is just happening now, it is their job to anticipate and prepare.

This kind of answer is actually insulting. Of course, pardons are being researched and I’d be shocked if there are not tripwires already in place that will trigger one or more pardons. What Sekulow imagines he gains by telling a truthful answer in a way that seems like a baldfaced lie is simply beyond my understanding. Playing cute word games, and playing them not all that well, is not a great strategy of an administration that is assumed to be lying about just about everything.



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