Trump's pardons make it impossible to hold a president accountable: Mueller prosecutor
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A senior prosecutor on special counsel Robert Mueller's team fears that President Donald Trump's new pardons essentially put the president above the law and guarantee that the Office of the Special Counsel is essentially powerless.

Speaking to MSNBC on Wednesday, Andrew Weissmann explained that the rule of law binds the Department of Justice when it decides who to prosecute and not to. The DOJ, he said, doesn't take into account the partisanship of the accused.

"We don't take into account whether somebody is a friend or foe of the president," he continued. "And what we're seeing is that the president, in exercising his constitutional power to pardon, is not taking into account what we're supposed to, which is the rule of law. No one in their right mind can say that convicted murderers, corrupt politicians, the largest healthcare fraud perpetrator ever, all deserve to be pardoned more than anyone else who is currently in custody. Yet, that is what this president has just done. So, your introduction about the -- this really being a frontal assault on the rule of law, I think, gets it exactly right."

Weissmann explained that there is a DOJ process that is followed for pardons where prosecutors, defense attorneys and White House staff look through the applicant to ensure everyone is considered equally.

"Obviously, in the -- in our past, there have been anomalies. mark rich is a classic example," he continued. "But usually, a president goes through those, and there is generally a history of having more pardons at the end of a term, but the idea here is that you are applying neutral principles to who gets a pardon in the same way the department of justice is supposed to apply neutral principles as to who it's going to prosecute and who it's not going to prosecute."

Two of the pardons were ones prosecuted by Mueller's team, which Weissmann said undermines the rule of law and power of the special counsel.

"If you look at the actual justification given by the White House for each of those pardons, I read the facts -- and I should put facts in air quotes -- and they left out so many damning facts, and they mischaracterized even the ones that they used to try and justify what they were doing," he continued. "On the bigger picture, it is really a bad precedent to not hold people to account who lie and obstruct a special counsel investigation, because if you think of the only tool that we have to hold the president and the presidency to the rule of law, it currently is just the special counsel rule."

He explained that it's the executive branch basically saying "it's fine to obstruct the investigation because the president -- the same president who was under investigation -- can encourage that investigation to be thwarted and lied to and obstructed, then there really is no way to hold the presidency to account. And that, I think, is the larger message of what we're seeing here."

Former Republican spokesperson Tim Miller predicted that the worse pardons are still to come from Trump and they likely include his children.

Watch the discussion below:


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