Executive power

  • August 31, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Dan Froomkinstacks on stacks

    The ultra-high-end real estate business, where Donald Trump made a lot of his money, is the easiest place for oligarchs and others to launder large amounts of illicit cash.

    And because several of the lawyers on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian connections with the Trump presidential campaign are specialists in money-laundering and other financial crimes, some observers are speculating that he may be looking into Trump's past business dealings to see if any of those connections are relevant to the matter at hand.

  • August 25, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Daniel T. Kobil, Professor, Capital University Law School

    If Donald Trump issues a pardon to Joseph Arpaio he will likely be acting within his enumerated powers as president, but doing so in a manner that could undermine our legal system and the Constitution. 

    Arpaio is the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., who was found guilty in July of criminal contempt for defying a federal court’s order barring the illegal profiling of immigrants and Latinos by his officers. Though he faces potential imprisonment of up to six months, he has not yet been sentenced, nor applied for clemency through the Justice Department process in effect since the Reagan administration that requires applicants to wait five years after completing their sentence and undergo a thorough investigation before they can be pardoned. Nevertheless, Trump has signaled that he plans to pardon Arpaio preemptively because he approves of Arpaio’s harsh treatment of immigrants. 

  • July 28, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Ambassador (ret.) Keith Harper

    *This article was first published on Just Security

    It emerged late last week that President Trump has reportedly queried his lawyers regarding the nature and scope of his authority to pardon individuals including himself.  Over the weekend, Trump tweeted a “nothing to see here” message while asserting his pardon power was “complete,” presumably meaning absolute.

    While not limitless, the authority of the President to pardon is undeniably substantial. The President cannot pardon for prospective crimes or violations of state criminal law. There is a strong argument that he cannot pardon himself and certainly cannot insulate himself or others from the conviction of impeachment, as expressly stated in the Constitution.  But other than these and perhaps other narrow limitations, a President’s pardon powers is vast.  Indeed, the President’s power to pardon others including his family members for past federal crimes, even without evidence of specific criminal investigation or prosecution, is arguably plenary in nature.

  • July 27, 2017
    Guest Post

    By ACS President Caroline Fredrickson

    “The Events of recent weeks have eerily reminded me of those Watergate days,” stated William D. Ruckelshaus, who resigned as President Nixon’s Deputy Attorney General after refusing to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.

    Ruckelshaus joins a growing chorus of Republican advice-givers concerned about Trump’s reported desire to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. His opinion piece in today’s New York Times (“A ‘Saturday Night Massacre’ Veteran Offers Trump Some Advice) tracks a comparison of Nixon and Trump created by the ACS. 




  • July 27, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Renato Mariotti, Partner, Thompson Coburn LLP

    Ever since word surfaced last week that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is examining financial transactions involving President Trump’s businesses and associates, the Trump legal team has leveled charges that Mueller has strayed “beyond the mandate of the Special Counsel.” There is no reason to believe that Mueller has done so.

    As a starting point, it is worth noting that Mueller’s mandate is extraordinarily broad. He is not only empowered to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” but he is also permitted to investigate “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

    That means that if Mueller’s team uncovers evidence of a crime that is related in any way to the crimes they are investigating, that is within the scope of his investigation. For instance, an individual could have structured a cash transaction to hide money payments to a hacker who obtained emails or to an American in exchange for assistance, an entity could have laundered money used to aid in coordination efforts, or evidence of a financial crime could have been used by the Russian government to blackmail an American into cooperating with them.