The Raffensperger tape shows Trump’s Plan A to stay ahead of the law: election tampering. That plan will reach its finale on January 6—the point of no return, the last minute for stunts and sabotage. A shameful number of Republican members of the House and Senate have signed up for the stunts and sabotage, but not enough to prevent the inevitable outcome of a Biden-Harris inauguration on January 20.
If a president can pardon himself as well as his or her subordinates, a president can order any crime, or commit it himself, with absolute impunity. The very notion of a self-pardon is radically inconsistent with democratic accountability. If Trump tries to pardon himself, his successors must fight his attempt all the way to the Supreme Court. And given the Raffensperger recording, who doubts that Trump will try it?
The sensible American majority surely wants an end to Trump controversies after Inauguration Day, a return to normal governance and the crucial work ahead: overcoming the pandemic, restoring the economy, and renewing U.S. leadership of the world. But Trump gets a say too, as he got a say in the impeachment crisis. Trump is abusing the power of the presidency until his last hour in office. And his nonstop abuse seems likely to force a reckoning even by those most eager to move on. Trump will not be ignored; he will not let the chapter quietly close. Show him a red line, and he will cross it. And if the country’s red lines are to be reestablished, Trump will have to face the law he violated and violated and violated again.