US President Donald Trump could issue a number of pardons in his final days in power.
Trump previously granted mercy to supporters, particularly earlier this year when he commuted the criminal sentence of Roger Stone, who was sentenced to jail after being convicted on oath to lawmakers.
In 2018, Trump even said he had the “absolute right” to apologize – a claim that many constitutionalists deny.
Here’s an overview of Trump’s pardon power, which, while comprehensive, is not absolute.
Are there limits to Trump’s pardon?
The pardon power provided by the US Constitution is one of the most comprehensive available to a president. The founders of the nation saw the power of pardon as a way to show mercy and serve the common good.
While pardons are usually punishable by those who are prosecuted, pardons can cover behavior that has not yet led to legal proceedings.
A pardon is not subject to review by other branches of government, and the President is not required to give a reason for issuing one.
A pardon erases a criminal conviction. Another form of executive grace known as commutation leaves the belief intact but obliterates the punishment.
But the pardon is not absolute. What matters is that a pardon only applies to federal crimes. This means that pardons, for example, would not protect Trump employees from the criminal investigation of prosecutor Cyrus Vance in Manhattan.
Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, was based on hush money payments made by former President’s lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen to two women – an adult movie star and a former Playboy model – prior to the 2016 election said they had sex encounters with Trump. Trump has denied the encounters and said the investigation was politically motivated.
The district attorney has suggested in court files that the investigation is now broader and could focus on potential banking, tax, and insurance fraud, as well as forgery of business records. It is unclear what stage the investigation is at. Nobody has been charged with criminal misconduct.
Could Trump excuse his family members?
Yes. It is legal for Trump to pardon his inner circle, including his family members.
In 2001, former President Bill Clinton pardoned his own brother Roger, who was convicted of cocaine possession in Arkansas.
Clinton pardoned about 450 people, including a Democratic Party donor Marc Rich, who fled the country for tax evasion.
Who Else Could Pardon Trump?
Trump said he could forgive Michael Flynn, his former national security advisor, who pleaded guilty to lied to the FBI about talking to a Russian official before Trump took office in 2017.
While waiting for the conviction, Flynn attempted to withdraw his request, claiming it was set up by the FBI.
The Justice Department has obtained permission from a judge to drop the case.
There was also speculation that Trump would preemptively pardon his personal attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
The federal prosecutor in Manhattan is investigating whether Giuliani violated lobbying laws in his dealings in Ukraine.
The investigation into Giuliani relates to the case against two of his employees who are alleged to have violated campaign funding. Giuliani has denied breaking the law and has not been charged with criminal misconduct by prosecutors.
Can Trump forgive himself?
There is no definitive answer to this question. No president has tried before, so the courts have not weighed.
“When people ask me if a president can forgive himself, my answer is,” Well, he can try, “said Brian Kalt, professor of constitutional law at Michigan State University.” The Constitution doesn’t give a straight answer to that. “
Many legal experts have said that self-forgiveness would be unconstitutional because it violates the fundamental principle that no one should be the judge in his case. Kalt said that he believed this was the stronger argument.
Trump could seek pre-emptive apologies to cover the possibility of law enforcement after leaving office.
In this case, the legitimacy of the pardon could never be tested in court, said Kalt. For a court to rule on the validity of the pardon, a federal attorney would have to accuse Trump of a crime, and then Trump would have to raise the pardon in defense, he said.
Could Vice President Trump take over and excuse Trump?
In a 1974 memorandum, a Justice Department attorney said President Richard Nixon could not apologize, but that another option was constitutional: he resigned temporarily, received an apology from his vice president, and then regained power.
To do this, Nixon should have enforced the 25th amendment to the US Constitution, which allows an incapable president to temporarily resign.
Nixon eventually resigned in the face of the Watergate scandal and the almost certain impeachment and impeachment. His successor, Gerald Ford, later apologized to Nixon for all federal crimes he had committed or could have committed while in office.
It’s not clear what Vice President Mike Pence would get out of apologizing for Trump, said Corey Brettschneider, a professor of political science at Brown University.
“I don’t think Pence would like that to define his legacy,” said Brettschneider.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)