The stunning disclosure came out of an unsealed court opinion in which all names and vital information was heavily redacted. President Trump denounced the investigation as “fake news” even though it emerged from court documents amid a swirl of other crime and punishment related developments in the final days of his administration.
There have been extensive reports of Trump discussing with aides granting of pre-emptive pardons to a range of people, including a self-pardon for himself and to his three children (Ivanka, Eric, and Don Jr), his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, amid fears that they would be prosecuted by a “vindictive” Biden administration. Legal experts and constitutional scholars have been debating the merits of a President granting himself a self-pardon and how much protection such pardons can provide for crimes prosecuted by states, as opposed to federal charges.
The discussions have become animated amid as Trump’s effort to somehow stall a Biden presidency is failing and an ignominious exit looks inevitable. On Tuesday, Trump’s own Attorney General Bill Barr, seen as a loyal frontman for the President’s exertions, declared the US Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 .
Barr told the Associated Press that US attorneys and FBI agents followed up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.” Coming on top of embarrassing setback in courts and even Republican officials and lawmakers certifying a Biden victory, the “desertions” have enraged Trump’s extremist followers, some of whom urged the President to declare a limited form of martial law, temporarily suspend the constitution, and hold a national “re-vote” under military supervision.
Trump loyalists are now turning ferociously against Barr and other Republican officials and lawmakers whom they see as traitors. In one shocking episode this week, Trump lawyer Joseph DiGenova said Christopher Krebs, the head of the US cybersecurity agency, who maintained there was no significant voter fraud in the 2020 elections, should be executed.
“Anybody who thinks the election went well….like that idiot Krebs… is a class A moron. He should be drawn and quartered. Taken out at dawn and shot,” DiGenova said in a podcast shown on YouTube and the propagandist Trump-allied Newsmax TV. After Krebs spoke of suing him, DiGenova claimed his comments were “hyperbole in a political discourse.”
Such threats have put the fear of life into moderate Republicans who want to accept the election results, put country before politics, and move on. In an emotional outburst, one Republican official in Georgia, where Trump failed to reverse his election loss, virtually accused the President of inciting violence and warned someone could get killed on account of his provocative comments.
“Mr. President, it looks like you likely lost the state of Georgia. We’re investigating, there’s always a possibility, I get it, you have the right to go through the courts. What you don’t have the ability to do — and you need to step up and say this — is stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence. Someone is going to get hurt. Someone is going to get shot. Someone is going to get killed. And it’s not right,” Gabriel Sterling, a Republican elections official, said.
Democrats meanwhile are gearing up to fight what they see as a pardon scandal and crime spree in the final days of the Trump White House. The defeated President and his family are coming under scrutiny again after pandemic related loan data obtained by news organisations under the Freedom of Information Act showed over 25 PPP loans worth more than $3.65M were given to businesses with addresses at Trump and Kushner real estate properties.
Overall, the data showed more than half of the $522 billion in PPP small business loans went to 600 larger companies and chains. The news angered an already restive population reeling under coronavirus restrictions even as the Trump White House partied into its final days.
In scenes that are being compared to the final moments of the Titanic, Trump told supporters in a White House Christmas party on Tuesday that he would return to the White House for another four years, if not now then in 2024.
“It’s been an amazing four years. We are trying to do another four years…Otherwise, I’ll see you in four years,” Trump told the mostly maskless gathering.