One day after Donald Trump learned he won’t be serving a second term, CNN legal analyst Elie Honig said the president needs to prepare himself for the possibility of criminal indictments the moment President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in.
Speaking with host Christi Paul, the former federal prosecutor said the country should expect a flurry of pardons from Trump including the possibility he may try to pardon himself.
“The president by law retains all of his power until January 20th with the inauguration. With that said, what do you expect is going to happen between now and Inauguration Day?” host Paul asked.
“Hold on tight to your seats,” Honig began. “I think President Trump is going to use every last ounce of power right up until 11:59:59 on January 20th. Watch for pardons; he has the pardon power. Many presidents have used the pardon power in their final dates in office. I’d watch for him to pardon his political allies, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos. I would look at the possibility that he might pardon his family members who are under state investigations for fraud. Now presidential pardon doesn’t cover people in a state prosecution, but might well cover them for federal purposes. Then the big question is: will the president try to pardon himself? It’s never happened in our history and we don’t actually know if that’s lawful or not. But if he tries it, we could find out.”
Continuing in that vein, the former prosecutor pointed out what the future holds for the president.
“He loses his protections,” he began. “He’s avoided trouble by being in the White House — there are laws and policies, especially in the Justice Department, that protect a sitting president. He will not be the sitting president at 12:01 on January 20th.”
“He’s got potential exposure from the federal government, from the Department of Justice, and potentially from the Manhattan prosecutors — they are focusing on the Manhattan state prosecutors, the D.A’s office is focusing on various financial fraud,” he added. “In some ways that’s easier to prove and easier to prosecute than some of the things that might be federal; for example obstruction of justice. But he’s looking at at least two different avenues of potential criminal exposure once he gets out of office.”