August 30, 2019
“If he builds it, they will come.” Just as the famous line from the 1989 movie, Field of Dreams promised, President Donald Trump now believes that if he builds the wall at the border, they—his voter base—will come to the polls for him.
And he’s willing to do almost anything to accomplish his goal. Indeed, he is supposedly considering using funding originally designated for disaster aid within the United States; urging subordinates to seize land unlawfully, and offering pardons to those who get in trouble on his behalf.
The notion of pardoning those who use illegal means to build a border wall has alarmed congressional Democrats, who had been investigating potential obstruction of justice on Trump’s part as the House continues to weigh whether to launch impeachment proceedings once lawmakers return to the Capitol next month, The Washington Post reported on August 28.
Representative David Cicilline (Rhode Island), a member of the House Democratic leadership and the House Judiciary Committee, said any suggestion that Trump would encourage subordinates to break the law by promising pardons is “appalling” and worthy of further investigation by the panel.
“Sadly, this is just one more instance of a president who undermines the rule of law and behaves as if he’s a king and not governed by the laws of this country,” Cicilline said in an interview with the Post on Wednesday. “He is not a king, he is accountable … I think it just adds to the ongoing proceeding before the Judiciary Committee as we consider whether to recommend articles of impeachment against the president.”
Trump on Wednesday denied that he had made those private assurances, first reported Tuesday evening by The Washington Post. Yet a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity in advance of the report did not deny it and said Trump is joking when he makes such statements about pardons.
“Another totally Fake story in the Amazon Washington Post (lobbyist) which states that if my Aides broke the law to build the Wall (which is going up rapidly), I would give them a Pardon,” Trump tweeted Wednesday afternoon. “This was made up by The Washington Post only in order to demean and disparage — FAKE NEWS!”
The wall discussions are not the first time that Trump has reportedly promised a pardon to a subordinate for doing something potentially illegal, according to the news outlet.
In April, The New York Times reported that Trump told Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan that he would pardon him if he directed his personnel to illegally deny asylum to migrants who request it at the southern border. Trump later denied doing so in a tweet, calling it “Another Fake Story.”
Cicilline said it did not matter whether Trump’s subordinates ultimately carried out his illegal directives. “It’s an abuse of the pardon power, it’s an abuse of the president’s authority, and it’s very likely illegal,” he said. “So whether anyone actually does it or not—that idea that the president of the United States, responsible for enforcing and upholding the rule of law in this country, is making a statement like that is just appalling.”
Research contact: @washingtonpost