All the president’s options
The Trump campaign continues litigating election challenges while the president, administration officials and much of the Republican Party refuse to concede, creating practical and symbolic obstacles to transition. “There’s a danger that it will add up,” and Americans could “lose the thread” of the election because of the delay tactics, Noah Bookbinder of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), told DealBook.
All eyes are on the General Services Administration. Without the official green light, the transition team can’t secure funds, offices, security clearances or access to officials. CREW yesterday urged Congress to hold a public hearing on the G.S.A.’s delay. Mr. Biden says he’s proceeding as if President Trump had conceded the election, but his transition team says that “everything is on the table” in terms of forcing the issue.
Companies are watching closely, lobbyists say, anticipating a moment when Mr. Trump’s efforts to contest the election may become a headache for them, too. Airbnb delayed filing its I.P.O. prospectus until next week, Bloomberg reported, to put more distance between it and the election fallout.
Mr. Trump may have his own business prospects in mind, with legal woes casting a shadow over his life after leaving office. He could use the presidency to avoid later legal entanglements, and his liberal pardoning of associates has generated speculation about what he may do for himself on the way out. DealBook went through the hypotheticals with experts.
Pardon power is “pretty broad,” said Tara Leigh Grove, a constitutional law scholar at the University of Alabama. But that power extends only to federal offenses and past acts, and probably does not include absolving oneself. Jens David Ohlin of Cornell Law said such an act would be a “shocking” and strange twist on the concept of “sovereign grace” that spawned the pardon. Alternatively, the president could resign before his term ends, and his successor could pardon him pre-emptively for any attempted federal prosecutions of past acts. That would be legal if unseemly, scholars agree. The attorney general could also write protective memos making future investigations harder.
Legal action looms, even if Mr. Trump ends up partially shielded, as this non-exhaustive list shows:
“In order to assess what wealth should be redistributed, we must first identify where the older generation has made gains through mere luck of timing and forces outside their control.”
— Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid and Luke Templeman in a new report: “To save capitalism we must help the young”