Trump and Pence - "Let's Make A Deal"
Precedents Suggest Resignation In Return For a Pardon Is the Best Way Out
At the same time, as threats of criminal prosecutions from a variety of sources grow stronger, it is reported the Trump is considering pardoning himself, something he has long maintained he was the authority to do.
But all these conjectures have major problems, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who postulates an equally probable scenario based upon two recent historical precedents.
It appears unlikely, despite the outrage over the riots and the President's actions regarding them, that Vice President Mike Pence and a sufficient number of cabinet officials would use the 25th Amendment to remove him from office, especially for this short period of time.
Time would also be a problem in seeking to impeach Trump, and to have a full trial in the Senate, before his term would end naturally, and it is also unlikely that a two-thirds supermajority of senators would vote to remove him from office.
A self pardon also has drawbacks since a court might well rule after he left office and was charged with a felony that a sitting president cannot issue a pardon to himself, especially an blanket pardon for any crimes Trump may later be accused of.
Moreover, the issuance of such a self pardon could make it more likely that he would be charged with a federal crime, since a Justice Department would not want to establish - by letting the precedent go unchallenged - that a president is immune from prosecution while in office, and can then obtain permanent immunity for all federal crimes simply by issuing a pardon to himself.
An equally likely scenario, says Banzhaf, is that Pence would be very eager not to have Trump remain in office but, recognizing the problems of using the 25th Amendment or the impeachment process to achieve that goal, would instead offer Trump - author of "The Art of the Deal" - a deal he might find hard to resist: Trump would resign immediately in return for a blanket pardon by Pence.
Banzhaf suggests that Ford's pardon of Nixon, and Agnew's deal to step down as vice president, provide precedent.