Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said that President Donald Trump should seek “some key attorneys’ advice” about whether he should pardon himself before he leaves office.
“I think it’s something that the president should ask some key attorneys’ advice on, including the attorney general. I think that it’s a real danger,” Gingrich told Fox News’ “Hannity.”
“We have never criminalized the presidency in the way that the left is now talking about. And this is going to become a very dangerous country if you’re faced with the prospect that when you leave office, you go to jail,” he continued.
Host Sean Hannity referenced a November 24 column in The New York Times from Andrew Weissmann, a key prosecutor with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, who argued that the president should be investigated and prosecuted if he is guilty of violating any federal offenses.
“But as painful and hard as it may be for the country, I believe the next attorney general should investigate Mr. Trump and, if warranted, prosecute him for potential federal crimes,” Weissmann wrote.
“I read that and I said on the air today … And if that’s what they want to do, if Biden ever became president, I’d tell Trump, ‘Pardon yourself and pardon your family,’” said Hannity.
Gingrich agreed that there is a very real possibility that Trump’s political opponents might seek legal recourse after he leaves office.
“Look, I think you have to start with a very simple premise. They hate Trump. They will do anything they can to cause pain to Trump or to cause pain to anybody who’s worked for Trump or who has supported Trump, or who has spoken out in favor of Trump,” he said, claiming that “this is a cultural Civil War and these people are playing for blood. It shouldn’t surprise us,” he said.
Hannity noted that “the power of the [presidential] pardon is absolute,” and asked, “Does he have to pardon himself and his family out the door because they want to pursue this guy into the grave if that happened?”
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said in June 2019 that she believed the Department of Justice (DOJ) “would have no choice” but to prosecute Trump after he leaves office. President-elect Joe Biden has acknowledged that prosecuting Trump would be “not very good for democracy.” But he also said he would not block the DOJ from doing so.
Trump noted in June 2018 that he believed he could pardon himself at any time but asked in a tweet, “Why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?”
Trump pardoned former national security adviser Michael Flynn, ending Flynn’s legal limbo after he initially pleaded guilty as part of Mueller’s probe.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described Trump’s pardon as “an act of grave corruption and a brazen abuse of power.”