Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Trump asserts 'complete power to pardon'; can he pardon himself?

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The Constitution bars the president from using his pardon power to prevent his impeachment, but doesn’t specifically say whether he can pardon himself in criminal cases. The ban on impeachment pardons is in Article II, which says the president has the power “to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”

Tribe, Painter and Eisen point to another provision in Article I that says impeached individuals “shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law.”

Tribe, Painter and Eisen argue that the Article I provision would make no sense if the president could pardon himself. They also cite the “broad precept against self-dealing” in other constitutional provisions, such as the rule that congressional pay hikes can’t take effect during the Congress that enacted them.

Turley says a judicial decision on the issue could go either way. “However, the well-based opposition to self-pardons should not lead to self-delusion,” he says. “If President Trump were to pardon himself, he could legitimately claim to be acting within the express language of the Constitution.”

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