Last week reports surfaced that President-elect Donald Trump has no intention of following the rules of the federal government when it comes to his family’s role in the administration. According to multiple sources, the incoming president has decided to place his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner in key roles in his White House despite the anti-nepotism laws that are supposed to prevent that very thing. The decision to bring the two on as advisers caused yet another uproar about Trump’s many conflicts of interest. Now Newt Gingrich is saying the rules do not apply to the self-proclaimed billionaire because that’s what presidential pardons are for.
During an interview on the “The Diane Rehm Show,” Gingrich responded to a question about Trump’s conflicts of interest by saying:
I think in the case of the president, he has a broad ability to organize the White House the way he wants to. He also has, frankly, the power of the pardon. I mean, it is a totally open power, and he could simply say look, I want them to be my advisors, I pardon them if anybody finds them to have behaved against the rules, period. And technically under the Constitution he has that level of authority.
The Republican Party often portrays itself to be the party of “law and order.” In fact, Donald Trump told the American people throughout his campaign that he was the “law and order candidate” (a term that ironically, President Nixon often used). And when the GOP opposes amnesty for undocumented immigrants, their favorite go-to reason is that “we are a country of laws”.
Despite all of that rhetoric, Gingrich is now telling the American people that Trump should not have to play by the same rules as everyone else. Host Diane Rehm asked Richard Painter, President George W. Bush’s chief ethics lawyer from 2005 to 2007, for his reaction to Gingrich’s outrageous suggestion. Here’s how he responded:
“There is no billionaire exception in the Constitution of the United States,” Painter said, adding later: “The pardon power can not be used by the president to pardon himself, or to cause other members of his administration to engage in illegal conduct or unconstitutional conduct and then simply use the pardon power in that way. If the pardon power allows that, the pardon power allows the president to become a dictator.”
Precisely. Just because Trump was elected president does not make him and his family suddenly above the law, but that’s exactly what the GOP seems to think. This party spent eight years accusing President Obama of breaking every conceivable law (without any evidence to support it), but now they are actively encouraging their incoming president to do just that. The hypocrisy is incredible.