Beg your pardon?
President Trump denied Wednesday that has offered pardons to aides who break the law rushing to build his "matte black" border wall, calling a Tuesday night Washington Post report "another totally Fake story" that "was made up by The Washington Post only in order to demean and disparage." On Wednesday, The New York Times and CNN both confirmed the Post's reporting.
A White House official hadn't denied Trump's pardon offers to the Post, saying only that Trump was joking, and a senior administration official told the Times the same thing, insisting that when Trump offers pardons or asks aides to break the law, "he winks when he does it."
Trump's "signature campaign promise to build a wall along the southwestern border is far behind schedule," so "he has told his aides to get the job done by whatever means necessary, including by seizing land on the Mexican frontier," the Times reports. "The president has repeatedly suggested during meetings on immigration policy that aides 'take the land' and 'get it done,' according to a person who has heard him say it." Two sources confirmed Trump's pardon comments to CNN.
The reports aren't unbelievable. Trump "has publicly talked up the government's ability to seize land for infrastructure purposes, and he has dangled pardons before," the Times reports. In fact, the Post adds, "several of the 15 pardons that Trump has issued during his presidency — a power that is nearly unchecked and that Trump has relished — have carried with them an overtly political tone," sending "indirect signals of his willingness to help those close to him escape punishment."
Joke or not, Democrats aren't laughing. "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," Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) told the Post. "He is not a king, he is accountable," and this will factor into House impeachment deliberations.