Trump tells border agents to just go ahead and break the law—he'll pardon them
During a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border last week, Donald Trump told border agents to block asylum-seekers from entering the U.S.—an action that would be in violation of both American law and international treaties. But Trump let them know it would be okay, telling the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection that if he went to jail for blocking those legally seeking asylum, Trump would grant him a pardon.
As numerous legal scholars have been quick to point out over the last two years, Trump’s pardon powers have no clear limits—though there has been some debate over whether he could pardon someone involved in a crime in which Trump himself was a suspect. Trump has been willing to sling that pardon power with abandon when it comes to his friends, pardoning everyone from racist sheriff Joe Arpaio to conspiracy theorist Dinesh D'Souza for breaking little things called “laws.”
But ordering someone to violate a law while holding out the promise of a pardon … would seem to be an issue.
CNN has indicated that it was not sure whether or not the comment was intended as a joke. And the acting head of the Department of Homeland Security has denied that Trump has ordered him to do anything illegal.
In the past Trump has “joked” repeatedly about beating up protesters, killing reporters, shooting at immigrants, and locking up opponents for political purposes. But maybe he isn’t serious about any of these actions after all. He’ll just order them done, then issue pardons.