“When the whole thing is over, things might get cleaned up with some presidential pardons.” Thus did Trump spokesman Rudy Giuliani suggest—in response to the recent jailing of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort for witness tampering while out on bail and reports that Michael Cohen might be willing to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation—that the president could wave his pardon wand to make all his legal troubles disappear.
Harry Litman, a former United States attorney and deputy assistant attorney general, teaches constitutional law at the UCSD School of Political Science and UCLA Law School and practices law at Constantine Cannon, where he represents whistleblowers in False Claims Act cases. He has held appointments at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, Rutgers Law School (Camden), the Georgetown Law Center, Berkeley Law School, the University of Pittsburgh Law School, and the UCSD School of Global Policy and Strategy. He previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney and Special Assistant United States Attorney, and prior to that held judicial clerkships with Justice Anthony Kennedy, Justice Thurgood Marshall, and Judge Abner Mikva. He has written a series of op-eds related to the Mueller investigation.
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A meme has taken hold that President Trump and his circle are comparable to a mafia family, with Trump himself as the “Don.”
In his memoir, “A Higher Loyalty,” former FBI director James Comey fleshes out the analogy. Comey, who made his name as a mob prosecutor, recognizes in Trump’s rule some key features of mafia life: ”The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth.”
Multiple news organizations have reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s “team could interview Trump soon on some limited portion of questions—possibly