January 11, 2021

Will Trump Pardon the Capitol Terrorists? I’m Asking Pat Cipollone

Will Trump Pardon the Capitol Terrorists? I'm Asking Pat Cipollone

Here’s an email I just sent to White House counsel Pat Cipollone:

Pat Cipollone, Esq.
Counsel to the President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. Cipollone,

I am writing to you as a concerned citizen. (I am a Washington, DC, attorney and former staff member of the National Security Council and Senate Intelligence Committee.) 
There are media reports that you may now be concerned about President Trump’s conduct. I have no idea whether they are true. 
I do wonder if you might have some capacity to deter or prevent the facilitation of additional presidential pardons. There certainly have been reports that the President may want to pardon himself, family members, and associates such as Rudolph Giuliani. 
Based on his past conduct and statements, I wonder if the President might also be considering pardons of individuals who participated in last week’s assault on the U.S. Capitol, an attack that caused the deaths of at least five people, including a Capitol Police officer, and threatened the lives of Vice President Pence, Members of Congress, staff members, law enforcement officers, and bystanders. 
Any such pardons would be at odds with the historical purpose of presidential pardons. As with the president’s pardons of  Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, and Paul Manafort, they would appear to be part of obstruction of justice schemes. The pardons of individuals who engaged in a seditious attack on the Capitol, in the wake of exhortations by the President himself, would seem particularly offensive to our nation’s values and interests.
The fact that many members of Congress, including some Republicans, and other national leaders are now calling for President Trump’s resignation, impeachment, or removal, even though only nine days remain in his term, underscore the wrongfulness and illegitimacy of any further pardons from this president.
I imagine President Trump lacks the skills to effectively issue pardons on his own.  If you want to make a strong contribution to the renewal of our democracy in the wake of the awful and illegal attack on the Capitol, I implore you not to facilitate, and indeed to actively resist and prevent, efforts by President Trump to effect pardons of himself, his family, his associates, and the Capitol terrorists.
Thank you for reading this message.

David Halperin
Attorney and Counselor
Washington, DC