Dem 51
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GOP 49
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To Pardon or Not to Pardon, That Is the Question

Continuing on the theme of the item above, one question reporters are going to ask all the Republican candidates is: "If you are elected president, will you pardon Donald Trump?" Again, this is a very tricky issue. A hard: "Yes, absolutely, on Jan. 20, 2025 at 12:01 p.m., I'll do it. Hell, my inaugural speech will start with: 'As my first official act as president, I hereby pardon Donald John Trump of any and all crimes he may have committed against the United States'" will be very helpful in the primaries but probably fatal in the general election. On the other hand: "Nope, no way. If one or more juries find him guilty, then he will have to go to prison" could be fatal in the primaries although possibly helpful later on if the candidate somehow gets the nomination (e.g., if Trump dies before the convention).

Some of the candidates are already staking out positions. Vivek Ramaswamy has not only tweeted that he will pardon Trump, but has demanded all the other candidates co-sign his pledge to do it as well. Ramaswamy has no chance to get the nomination, so it doesn't matter what he demands. For the record, Perry Johnson also said he would pardon Trump, but who cares what he says? The issue is: What do the more viable candidates say?

Nikki Haley is trying to have it both ways. She said she would be "inclined" to pardon Trump? What does that mean? That she is concerned about Trump's crimes? That won't be allowed because being "concerned" is a trademark of Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). Much as Haley would like to, she can't be on both sides. It simply won't work. The base won't believe her and independents won't believe her. She also said that a pardon is less about the guilt and more about what is better for the country. Sure. Right. Has she ever heard of Jerry Ford? Maybe not. She was only 2 years old when Ford pardoned Richard Nixon "for the good of the country" and saw his approval rating drop by 30 points almost immediately. He also lost his election bid as a result.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) hasn't stated his views on a pardon yet. He's probably waiting for more polling to come in before announcing his deep-seated views on a pardon. But he knows that Trump is a criminal. DeSantis served in the Judge Advocate Corps in the Navy. A reporter asked him what would have happened to him if he had taken classified documents home when he had them. He replied: "I would have been court martialed in a New York minute." But, like Haley, he is watching which way the wind is blowing and will try to evade taking a position as long as he can. That might not be so long, though. Suppose the moderator at the first debate says to all the candidates: Raise your hand now if you will pardon Donald Trump if he is convicted of any crimes before you become president." Either you raise your hand or you don't. Screen shots of that will be all over the Internet in 60 seconds.

Chris Christie was already asked about a pardon and said if Trump is given a fair trial and found guilty, then no, he would not pardon him. Asa Hutchinson was on CNN last weekend and said that a pardon was simply wrong.

We're curious about what Mike Pence will say when he can't tiptoe around the issue any longer. Especially if Trump is indicted for inciting a riot in which the rioters wanted to hang him. This issue is not going away any time soon. (V)

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