America should strengthen, not abandon, relationship with Cuba

The drawdown in personnel from the American embassy in Havana and the Cuban embassy in Washington in the wake of mysterious attacks on U.S. officials is a setback to the efforts begun by President Obama to reverse a five-decade policy of isolation that failed to advance U.S. interests. But whether the perpetrators of the alleged attacks, be they rogue elements of Cuban security forces or perhaps a third country like Russia or North Korea, are successful in damaging ties between the United States and Cuba will depend on how the U.S. government and American businesses, travelers and civil society respond.

The Trump administration has said its withdrawal of personnel is not intended to impede engagement, but rather to safeguard the health and security of American diplomats. Although courageous State Department diplomats pleaded to maintain the U.S. mission at full strength, the drawdown is a step any administration would have taken in the face of a danger to American personnel that it could not identify or mitigate. The expulsion of Cuban diplomats, however, was a more contentious step, given that the United States does not necessarily believe the Cuban government authorized the alleged attacks.

How long it will be before the American and Cuban embassies are fully staffed again is impossible to predict. Both governments remain at a loss to explain the source and method of the alleged attacks, which have apparently caused hearing loss and brain injury. The FBI has not detected any devices inside or outside American diplomatic residences in Havana or been able to replicate in lab tests the effect of the suspected attacks.

Inevitably, diplomatic engagement will be hampered during this period. Cuban travel to the United States will also diminish as the understaffed U.S. embassy reduces consular services for Cubans seeking a U.S. visa. Still, other forms of engagement do not have to end. On the contrary, now is the time for advocates of greater ties to stop those in either country seeking to drag the relationship backward.

Most importantly, supporters of engagement should make sure the alleged attacks do not dampen U.S. travel to Cuba. Since the diplomatic opening nearly three years ago, travel to the island has soared. The low crime rate in Cuba makes it among the safest places in the world to visit, but the State Department is now discouraging all travel to the island. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged that no U.S. private citizens have been affected by the alleged attacks, but since some apparently occurred at hotels where American citizens would stay, the State Department was required to issue a travel warning.

The cultural and natural splendor of Cuba should continue to motivate Americans to travel to the island. Even those skeptical of governmental engagement should feel comfortable visiting the island for cultural exchanges, as the hospitality industry is the sector with the largest entrepreneurial engagement and private employment. Private sector establishments, which employ about one-third of Cuban workers, depend on spending by foreign visitors to thrive. As Cuba recovers from Hurricane Irma, continued engagement has a humanitarian imperative as well.

Americans also have an incentive to visit Cuba before the Treasury Department issues new regulations governing travel there, as mandated by President Trump in June. The regulations are a few weeks overdue, and it is unclear when they will be issued. Treasury officials who oversee sanctions prefer to prioritize countries like Russia, Iran and North Korea, rather than proctor whether Americans step foot on a Caribbean beach.

Similarly, U.S. companies should not overreact and abandon the island. U.S. corporate leaders regularly complain about the challenges of navigating the bureaucratic and political thicket in Cuba. The travel warning and reduction in embassy commercial officers could cause some companies to delay or reconsider their Cuba plans. Savvy outfits, however, will look beyond the current diplomatic imbroglio and consider the first-mover advantage and long-term value of investing in Cuba. For its part, the Cuban government, which continues to signal its appetite for engagement with foreign companies, should expedite to the extent possible the approval of business petitions. The conclusion of a few high-profile deals could move other companies from the sidelines and beget more deals.

Finally, U.S. civil society, which has been instrumental to the process of normalization, should intensify engagement with their Cuban counterparts. Universities, sports leagues, cultural institutions, human rights groups, and research centers like the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, which is developing a lung cancer vaccine in collaboration with a Havana medical center, daily demonstrate how American engagement with Cuba enriches the lives of people in both countries.

The perpetrators of the alleged attacks on U.S. officials apparently wanted the U.S. and Cuban people to drift apart again. Whatever the origin of the illnesses afflicting U.S. diplomats, Cuban opponents of President Raul Castro’s opening to the United States will be pleased if Americans disengage from Cuba, and critics of normalization in the United States are cheering the renewed tensions. For the benefit of the Cuban people and Americans with a stake in the relationship with Cuba, it is important that the latest developments do not derail the historic reconciliation between the two countries.

  • Published in Cuba

Washington: Trump’s mental health

Americans increasingly wonder whether their president is mentally fit to hold the office.

Why? La Jornada newspaper’s renowned analyst David Brooks answered it last Friday.

He headed his article plainly: “Mental health experts warn the world about Trump’s dangerousness”.

Then, he quoted, well-known psychiatrists and psychologists, who consider a mistake to treat him as “if he were a normal person”.

He also refers to a new book that is about to be published in the United States, The dangerous case of Donald Trump.

Its text, written by 27 mental health experts, says that his makes him a clear and present danger.

Because of that, they point out, it is impossible to apply on him rules of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), which ban mental health specialists from publicly revealing their diagnoses of public figures they have't assessed. 

The book was prefaced by Dr. Banda X Lee, of Yale University, and Judith Herman, of Harvard.

They point out: "Collectively, we warn that anyone as mentally unstable as Mr. Trump simply should not be entrusted with the life-and-death powers of the presidency”.

They offer psychological variants to describe the health state of the president, some focused on his “malignant narcissism”. Experts recall such a concept was developed by psychologist Erick Fromm to characterize Hitler and his followers.

Retired Harvard Medical School psychiatry professor Lance Dodes notices that Trump’s sociopathic characteristics pose a danger to democracy in the United States.

Some quote a famous study on its 37 presidents until 1974, which concluded that half of them had mental problems.

And Trump? Combined in a “highly dangerous” toxic mixture.

May God, if he can, protect us.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi TranslationStaff

 

U.S.A.: A Paradise for Violent Crime

According to the Associated Press (AP) violent crimes in the United States grew over the two years in a row.

What period of time did that North American news agency write? The time comprising between 2015 and 2016.

The fact was broadly commented this Monday for its journalist Sadie Gurman.

Revising FBI statistics, she remarked that it grew mainly in the most important cities.

Gurman noticed that Donald Trump used the numbers as evidence that the country is amid a dangerous wave of crimes.

Therefore? The need of making arrests and other sanctions "against drug crimes."

AP remembers that last year there was a blast of shootings and robberies, up to 4,1% more than in 2015.

While homicides of varied nature reached 8,6% in that same time.

The source aforementioned turned to last year statistics to highlight that violence jumped to 3.9%, and murders to more than 10.

"This is a concerning tendency that threatens to thwart the advances that made safer our neighborhoods and communities", said the secretary of Justice, Jeff Sessions.

He also sentenced: the years of crime reduction have been replaced by increases.

The website Público.es recently informed in Madrid that two years ago nearly 1134 people were killed in the U.S., mostly black people.

An investigation of the British newspaper 'The Guardian' revealed that the youths of that community have nine times more probabilities of getting killed at the hands of the Police than at the hands of anyone else.

Scary no doubt, the United States has become, by its own right, a paradise for violent crimes.

Amilkal Labañino Valdés / Cubasi Translation Staff

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Trump: Is his Spokeswoman "Mute?"

Once again with questions marks appears the way things are handled by the people running the White House.

 

Now the main attacks swirl against Sarah Huckabee Sanders, his Press Secretary.

For what reason? Because after a succession of very important events she remained in silence.  

Even a journalist based in Miami, Otto Rodríguez, dedicated an article to the matter, "The Shocking Silence of the White House."

First he summarized the episodes of that stage: Protests in Charlottesville, the death of Heather Heyer at the hands of a white supremacist.

All amid the turmoil of a country more and more divided, and new tests of missiles in North Korea, among others.

Then he remembered that in such a scenario there was not even a single press conference.

Three weeks later, Rodríguez wrote, the spokeswoman Huckabee he spoke again to the credited press.

“It´s good to be back, [but] you don't seem thrilled. I thought there would surely be balloons here… or some other thing [to celebrate]. I imagine it will be next time."

After listening something like that, Rodríguez wondered where the common sense of the spokesmen of this Administration had gone.

“Is it perhaps a joke, or cynicism? Or just indifference in the need of the American public opinion of knowing what their leaders think about crucial events? "

Is perhaps the continuation of the wild war unleashed by Donald Trump's presidency against the American press?

On the next paragraph the journalist manifests his approaches on what triggers such process.

It’s very difficult to excuse a president that doesn't clearly stands against the white supremacists and Neo-Nazi of Charlottesville.

Who even estimated that in both sides there were "good people" during the clashes in that city of Virginia.

However, The Washington Post revealed a letter where the Trump’s top economic advisor, Gary Cohn, abandoned his position due to the violence caused by Nazi groups in that town.

Enough reasons to understand – up to a certain degree - the unusual silence of spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Amilkal Labañino Valdés / Cubasi Translation Staff

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Venezuela prepares in the face of Trump’s threats

After the failure in their attempt to hinder firstly, the election of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) and then its setting up, the internal counter-revolution hopes that the economic war imposed on the nation gives place to the direct military aggression of the United States, since the Donald Trump administration announced the possibility of a naval blockade. President Nicolás Maduro described it as madness and noticed that the armed forces are ready to reject any attack, reinforced the border with Colombia geared at preventing a treacherous invasion and mobilized hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans willing and active to defeat the imperialist attempt.

”It’s not a laughing matter. It’s sovereignty and independence that are at risk”, said Eleazar Díaz Rangel, director of “Últimas Noticias” newspaper, as Maduro claimed that “everything they are carrying out against Venezuela will fail with the effort of our people and Venezuela will come out strengthened, increasingly freer, more independent in the economic, financial, political, diplomatic and military field”.

One could not expect anything else from the United States and a president like Donald Trump, knowing, as the American people have just realized, that he is surrounded by what he is pleased with: racist and supremacist haters who hate not only Venezuela but the entire Latin America, riddled, according to them, with "an inferior race".

"To believe that these sanctions will only hit Venezuela is like believing ... that the announcement of the construction of the electrified wall between the US-Mexico border is an aggression only to countries that have migrants in the United States. No, it is not against those countries or against Mexico, it’s against the whole Latin America and the Caribbean”, stressed Maduro.

As many people know, last Friday the president of the United States issued an executive order that bans US citizens and entities from any transactions, such as the purchase of debt bonds, with the Venezuelan state and Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), which is considered the worst American aggression against Venezuela in the last 200 years.

Caracas is already responding to the aggression through the activation by the NCA of a plan to defend the economy and finances, and called on US companies that buy Venezuelan oil to an urgent meeting to fine-tune operating mechanisms after the economic war imposed by the White House.

DEMONIZATION AND DISABILITY
 
Within the same strategy, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Mike Pompeo, said that Venezuela is influenced by Hezbollah and Iran, two of the geopolitical actors that Washington places within the "Axis of Evil," and that’s why “it can become a risk for the United States”, which has set up a real uproar so that the halberdiers who control the press join their media mechanism. This "intelligence" maneuver seeks to strengthen the story that Venezuela is a country that promotes "Islamic terrorism".

There is a great truth in this nebula of lies: the Venezuelan right is incapable of creating something, turning the board upside down and gaining popular support, thereby it makes itself dependent on the will of a president who sanctions, blocks banks and finances, and tries to isolate the country diplomatically.

That right took advantage of government mistakes to achieve a legislative victory, for the first time in seventeen years, but that control of the National Assembly became a complete stop to measures that benefit the nation, so it had to be suspended, not eliminated. Then, most Venezuelans voted for the creation of the NCA that will strengthen the Constitution and help good governance.

All this stirred the worst of the worst, removed masks from hypocrites, and united that group of genuflectors with the Cuban exiles in Miami, which dictates rules to their Venezuelan acolytes.

While poorly participating in a dialogue with the government, the ill-named Democratic Unity Board (MUD) tried to hold President Nicolás Maduro accountable for the threat of military intervention by Donald Trump, when its main leaders were protagonists of appeals to US rulers and officials to invade the country in the face of successive failures of all its violent and terrorist strategies.

Thus, reviewing the press sold to the national oligarchy, there is evidence that in 2017 important enemies of the Bolivarian Revolution, such as Julio Borges, Luis Florido and Lilian Tintori, have been photographed along with US officials, and Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the pro-American Organization of American States (OAS), while often travelling to Washington and Miami to achieve the financial blockade of the country by big international banks.

Borges has appeared smiling next to H.R. McMaster, National Security Advisor, who attended the meeting where Trump announced the military option and threatened to invade Venezuela; as Florido and Tintori have met with lawmakers Marco Rubio and Bob Menéndez, from the anti-Cuban mafia, enemies of the enemies of the Venezuelan constitutional government and promoters of the funding to the protagonists of the terrorist wave.

In other words, they are all part of the concoction that is being cooked to attack Venezuela, in a counter-revolutionary action, where the “cooks” could get burned.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

United States: Only for «Whites»?

Thus insinuates the migratory project driven by Donald Trump.

Amid a country where racist groups thrive, its president pleads for an initiative that encourages that evil.

The perspective was commented last Monday, among others, by a New Herald columnist, Fabiola Santiago.

She wrote, Trump’s migratory project seeks “to make the United States white again” and that they only speak English.

Also, if approved, our current city of Miami would not exist.

In fact, she adds, the idea of the president's reformation closes the doors to people like Cuban- Americans who voted for him.

The same happens with his Latin and Haitian supporters, too stubborn on their support to a president “whose white-supremacy, and anti-immigrants agenda” is a slap on the face of a diverse country and an insult to the values with which it was founded.

Fabiola Santiago stops to wonder:

What can be expected from an administration that separates North American children from their parents and launches an initiative whose target is minorities?

The Raise Law would reduce legal immigration by 50% in the next 10 years, and would give priority to skills over family reunification, abandoning the sacrosanct migratory politics of the United States.

With sarcastic tone Fabiola Santiago says: The president could also dismantle the Statue of Liberty, and return it to France.

She warns in her article what Trump’s plan pursues is to change our racial and ethnic face, as well as to write a new speech on who we are and what we defend.

Later she says, “Trump wants that, once again, the United States to be white” and monolingual.

Besides she adds, after a long road, it he wants to pass a supremacy politics in only eight months of government.

There is a small detail that strays from that attempt, the North American people, as a whole has never favored extreme positions.

Even less the intellectual and artistic sectors that bump into the Golden Ox that wanders the White House are well-known.

With Trump, racism is pleased

The dilemma the US people are experiencing today goes from bad to worse, since they are victims of a widespread fear that made them fall into the clutches of one of the most racist presidents that ever ruled in the United States: Donald Trump.

In his yet brief power, racist attacks have multiplied everywhere; hatred is so strong that people with white skin, blonde hair and green eyes are considered inferior people, for the sole fact of being Latin American. There people say the “dirty Hispanic race”, thus tell me acquaintances from the state of Georgia, with an infamous record, for being one of the main centers for burning hundreds of thousands of blacks at the stake.

Andrés Openheimer, a reactionary journalist who is not prone to leftist considerations, voices his concern over the rise in racism on US soil, the division of families, what mankind could suffer in the future with a president like Donald Trump in the presidency of the United States.

Notorious enemy of the Cuban Revolution, Openheimer admits that Trump has separated longtime friends and created tensions in family tables, "charming the masses with rhetoric full of hatred, blaming foreigners for the problems of their country". And he recalled that during the election campaign he did not see "cars in the streets of Miami with decals supporting the presidential candidates", because people were afraid of being insulted, or that someone could scratch their cars, in addition of having little enthusiasm for the candidates, obviating the widespread idea that Florida and the support of the Miami mafia contributed to Trump’s victory.

It’s been several months since his inauguration, but the president does not change his view that most Mexican immigrants "bringing crime" and are "rapists". Racism and xenophobia have split that country as never before in recent history.

Trump encourages his audience with racist comments against Hispanics, African-Americans, Muslims and other ethnic groups. And the saddest thing is that his public celebrates it in big way.

It is not surprising that the Ku Klux Klan, closely linked with Fred, Donald's father, is still celebrating euphorically his arrival in power, and leads victorious marches in various states, while neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups now feel represented in the White House.

Thanks to Trump, the ideal of neo-Nazi groups in an Aryan country, once relegated to the darkest corners of the Internet, is now closer to socially acceptable political discourse.

A recent report by the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission states that hate crimes against Latinos in that city rose by an impressive 69 percent.

And another study from the Southern Poverty Law Center states that Trump's presence "is producing an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color and increasing racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom".

The report adds that "teachers have noted a rise in abuse and intimidation of students whose race, religion or nationality has been targeted" by the current president.

It is symptomatic how a reactionary like Openheimer says he did not vote for Trump because he is a demagogue that incites hatred, who is supported by neo-Nazi groups, who is dividing Americans, and who speaks as if he were above the Constitution, an opinion highly shared by progressive Noam Chomsky, famous US political scientist and linguist, who considers that Trump's popularity is due to "fear" and is the result of a "society broken" by neoliberalism.

"People feel isolated, helpless and victims of more powerful forces, which they do not understand or cannot influence," said the 87-year-old intellectual, who claimed his age allows him to compare the current situation in the US election campaign with the 1930s, during which United States suffered the so-called great economic depression.

“Poverty and suffering were much greater, however, even among the poor and the unemployed, there was "a sense of hope, which we lack today”, the scholar said.

He attributed it to the growth of a militant labor movement "and" the existence of political organizations outside the main currents and added that the fact that pre-candidate Bernie Sanders and UK’s Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who lead popular ideas implemented in the 20th century, are now labeled as extremists, indicates that the whole political spectrum "has turned to the right during the neoliberal period".

The also US activist praised Sanders, although he considered the politician had no chance, because of the "largely rigged" election system, which rules in the United States. So, shortly before the elections, he warned that the victory of the Republicans would have serious consequences for mankind.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

Trump team seeks to control, block Mueller’s Russia investigation

Some of President Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort.

Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.

One adviser said the president has simply expressed a curiosity in understanding the reach of his pardoning authority, as well as the limits of Mueller’s investigation.

Do the political preferences of Mueller's team risk its independence?

“This is not in the context of, ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself,’ ” a close adviser said.

With the Russia investigation continuing to widen, Trump’s lawyers are working to corral the probe and question the propriety of the special counsel’s work. They are actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work, according to several of Trump’s legal advisers.

A conflict of interest is one of the possible grounds that can be cited by an attorney general to remove a special counsel from office under Justice Department regulations that set rules for the job.

Responding to this story on Friday after it was published late Thursday, one of Trump’s attorneys, John Dowd, said it was “not true” and “nonsense.”

“The President’s lawyers are cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller on behalf of the President,” he said.

Other advisers said the president is also irritated by the notion that Mueller’s probe could reach into his and his family’s finances.

Trump has been fuming about the probe in recent weeks as he has been informed about the legal questions that he and his family could face. His primary frustration centers on why allegations that his campaign coordinated with Russia should spread into scrutinizing many years of Trump dealmaking. He has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns.

Trump has repeatedly refused to make his tax returns public after first claiming he could not do so because he was under audit or after promising to release them after an IRS audit was completed. All presidents since Jimmy Carter have released their tax returns.

July 19, 2017 President Trump speaks at a luncheon with Republican leadership about health care in the State Dining Room of the White House. Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

“If you’re looking at Russian collusion, the president’s tax returns would be outside that investigation,” said a close adviser to the president.

Further adding to the challenges facing Trump’s outside lawyers, the team’s spokesman, Mark Corallo, resigned on Thursday. Corallo confirmed Friday that he has resigned but declined to comment further.

Corallo’s departure is part of a larger restructuring of Trump’s team undertaken in recent days. Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s New York-based personal attorney who had been leading the effort, will take a reduced role, people familiar with the team said. Meanwhile, veteran Washington lawyer John Dowd, hired last month, will take the lead in responding to the Special Counsel and Congressional inquiries. Jay Sekulow, a lawyer who has been a familiar face in conservative media in recent years, will serve as the group’s public face, appearing frequently on television.

Sekulow said in an interview Thursday that the president and his legal team are intent on making sure Mueller stays within the boundaries of his assignment as special counsel. He said they will complain directly to Mueller if necessary.  

“The fact is that the president is concerned about conflicts that exist within the special counsel’s office and any changes in the scope of the investigation,” Sekulow said. “The scope is going to have to stay within his mandate. If there’s drifting, we’re going to object.”

Sekulow cited Bloomberg News reports that Mueller is scrutinizing some of Trump’s business dealings, including with a Russian oligarch who purchased a Palm Beach mansion from Trump for $95 million in 2008. 

“They’re talking about real estate transactions in Palm Beach several years ago,” Sekulow said. “In our view, this is far outside the scope of a legitimate investigation.”

 The president has long called the FBI investigation into his campaign’s possible coordination with the Russians a “witch hunt.” But now, Trump is coming face-to-face with a powerful investigative team that is able to study evidence of any crime it encounters in the probe — including tax fraud, lying to federal agents and interference in the investigation.

“This is Ken Starr times 1,000,” said one lawyer involved in the case, referring to the independent counsel who oversaw an investigation that eventually led to House impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton. “Of course, it’s going to go into his finances.” 

Following Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James B. Comey — in part because of his displeasure with the FBI’s Russia investigation — Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel in a written order. That order gave Mueller broad authority to investigate links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, as well as “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation” and any crimes committed in response to the investigation, such as perjury or obstruction of justice.

Mueller’s probe has already expanded to include an examination of whether Trump obstructed justice in his dealings with Comey, as well as the business activities of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.

Trump’s team could potentially challenge whether a broad probe of Trump’s finances prior to his candidacy could be considered a matter that arose “directly” from an inquiry into possible collusion with a foreign government.

The president’s legal representatives have also identified what they allege are several conflicts of interest facing Mueller, such as donations to Democrats by some of his prosecutors.

Another potential conflict claim is an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011, two White House advisers said. A spokesman for Mueller said there was no dispute when Mueller, who was FBI director at the time, left the club.

Trump also took public aim on Wednesday at Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Rosenstein, whose actions led to Mueller’s appointment. In an interview with the New York Times Wednesday, the president said he never would have nominated Sessions if he knew he was going to recuse himself from the case.

Some Republicans in frequent touch with the White House said they viewed the president’s decision to publicly air his disappointment with Sessions as a warning sign that the attorney general’s days were numbered. Several senior aides were described as “stunned” when Sessions announced Thursday morning he would stay on at the Justice Department.

Another Republican in touch with the administration described the public steps as part of a broader effort aimed at “laying the groundwork to fire” Mueller.

“Who attacks their entire Justice Department?” this person said. “It’s insane.”

Law enforcement officials described Sessions as increasingly distant from the White House and the FBI because of the strains of the Russia investigation. 

Traditionally, Justice Department leaders have sought to maintain a certain degree of autonomy from the White House as a means of ensuring prosecutorial independence.

But Sessions’s situation is more unusual, law enforcement officials said, because he has angered the president for apparently being too independent while also angering many at the FBI for his role in the president’s firing of Comey. 

As a result, there is far less communication among those three key parts of the government than in years past, several officials said. 

Currently, the discussions of pardoning authority by Trump’s legal team are purely theoretical, according to two people familiar with the ongoing conversations. But if Trump pardoned himself in the face of the ongoing Mueller investigation, it would set off a legal and political firestorm, first around the question of whether a president can use the constitutional pardon power in that way.

“This is a fiercely debated but unresolved legal question,” said Brian C. Kalt, a constitutional law expert at Michigan State University who has written extensively on the question.

The power to pardon is granted to the president in Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, which gives the commander in chief the power to “grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” That means pardon authority extends to federal criminal prosecution but not to state level or impeachment inquiries.

No president has sought to pardon himself, so no courts have reviewed it. Although Kalt says the weight of the law argues against a president pardoning himself, he says the question is open and predicts such an action would move through the courts all the way to the Supreme Court.

“There is no predicting what would happen,” said Kalt, author of the book, “Constitutional Cliffhangers: A Legal Guide for Presidents and Their Enemies.” It includes chapters on the ongoing debate over whether presidents can be prosecuted while in office and on whether a president can issue a pardon to himself.

Other White House advisers have tried to temper Trump, urging him to simply cooperate with the probe and stay silent on his feelings about the investigation.

On Monday, lawyer Ty Cobb, newly brought into the White House to handle responses to the Russian probe, convened a meeting with the president and his team of lawyers, according to two people briefed on the meeting. Cobb, who is not yet on the White House payroll, was described as attempting to instill some discipline in how the White House handles queries about the case. But Trump surprised many of his aides by speaking at length about the probe to the New York Times two days later. Cobb, who officially joins the White House team at the end of the month, declined to comment for this article.

Some note that the Constitution does not explicitly prohibit a president from pardoning himself. On the other side, experts say that by definition a pardon is something you can only give to someone else. There is also a common-law canon that prohibits individuals from serving as a judge in their own case. “For example, we would not allow a judge to preside over his or her own trial,” Kalt said.

A president can pardon an individual at any point, including before the person is charged with a crime, and the scope of a presidential pardon can be very broad. President Gerald Ford pardoned former president Richard M. Nixon preemptively for offenses he “committed or may have committed” while in office.

  • Published in World
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