When I heard the news that Donald Trump has been exploring ways to pardon himself related to any forthcoming charges stemming from the increasingly heated Trump-Russia investigations, I wasn't even close to being surprised. This is a chief executive who has no respect for the system he's tasked with governing.
As many have observed, Trump has a poorly-educated child's view of what it means to president. Based on his public remarks as well as his behavior in office, it's quite obvious that Trump thinks he's the boss of the country -- he's your boss, he's my boss -- hell, I'm almost certain he believes Congress works for him. He doesn't realize that he's a servant of the people and not the other way around. Likewise, Trump exists in the "eternal now," which means he doesn't care about the terrible precedents he's establishing, each one further eroding the dignity and accountability of the office. The latter -- holding the president accountable -- is one of the most salient issues we face as Trump-Russia continues to erupt.
The presidential system of government is very easily corrupted, often lapsing into despotism. The long list of foreign criminals who've held the mantle of "el presidente" in their respective nations proves the point. But in the United States, the extra-constitutional traditions of the office have more or less kept our presidents from permanently lapsing into dictators.
Among dozens, these traditions include the president encouraging independent investigations into his own presidency and his administration. Presidential traditions also include maintaining a level of dignity and decorum commensurate with the gravity of the office. Trump isn't adhering to either of these traditions, and so there's a distinct likelihood that other presidents will follow his insane lead if he's allowed to get away with it.
Another tradition of the office is to resist calls to arrest or indict officials from the previous administration, regardless of the perceived crimes. You might recall how some lefties were pissed that President Obama didn't arrest Bush, Cheney and others for war crimes and the like. Naturally, it's a good thing Obama stuck with presidential tradition regarding this because, otherwise, it'd be harrowing to imagine Trump exercising this new power. Indeed, Trump would've arrested the entire Obama team in retaliation, including Hillary Clinton, and his supporters would only have to point to Obama's precedent.
President Nixon chose not to pardon himself, regardless of what the law said. But he could have. This would've presumably opened the door to allowing every president to sign orders to preemptively pardon himself upon taking office, putting the office above the law. But Trump doesn't care about future presidents or the damage that his behavior is creating within the system. Again, the eternal now.
Plus, Trump is a frightened toddler and will do anything he can to keep himself, his family and his closest advisers out of prison -- though he probably won't go to bat for his advisers as much as they'd like to think. We can definitely count on the fact that Trump will take whatever actions he sees fit to shield himself from comeuppance. I'd rank his eventual actions in the face of indictments as being among the biggest threats to national security and American democracy.
Make no mistake, the president will push far beyond the limits of presidential powers in order to sidestep justice in the Trump-Russia affair.
He'll absolutely fire Robert Mueller sooner or later -- probably sooner. We can also expect that he'll pardon himself, only to be reversed by the Supreme Court. But will he even obey the Court's decision? Maybe, maybe not, but the smart move would be for all of us to expect the worst from this erratic monster. I'd go so far as to forecast that he'd even use the military to shield himself from being removed from office. Of course Fox News and most of Trump's loyal fanboys will support whatever he does because fuck democracy. One way or another, if he's proven to be as guilty as we all believe he is, then he must be hastily stripped of the presidency. And if he resists, we're in for a hell of a nightmare.
As always, I hope I'm terribly wrong.