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Presidential Pardon: Can A President Pardon Himself?

Presidential Pardon: Can A President Pardon Himself?

We have seen since this weekend the press going crazy over a question, can Trump pardon himself, listening to them now, in what seems to be a game of who can lie and distort the truth the best, they are claiming that Trump is going to pardon himself, or at least try to, this is showing nothing but guilt. But is this what went on? We look at this and the two conflicting sides to this question.

We have seen on the press, reporters in full outrage, claiming that Trump is ignoring the constitution, trying to tear it to pieces by claiming he could pardon himself if he wished, they ask if there is no end to this depravity, but these same people had supported the idea that if Clinton became president she would be able to pardon her wrongdoing with the Servers and Benghazi, so why the support for one and not the other? We all know the answers to this, the total bias of the press, you bring Trump into the equation, even if they supported this 3 minutes before they will not be howling how badly they hate it.

We see that this question was asked, some wished to see her pardon herself, the same people that are shrieking in horror over if Trump can do this, others said any such a move would be political suicide.

But the question remains, does a president have a right to pardon themselves? There are two conflicting thoughts about this, well three if you count the hysterical screamers that are having a full meltdown over such a thought. We see two sides digging in, but in the end, it really matters not what they think, such a move would quickly be challenged in the federal courts, does not matter if Trump does it, or if Clinton had if she had won, the opposing political party would be off to the races to see who could file a court challenge first.

But what are the two sides? The first is that the president has the constitutional right to pardon anyone of a federal offense, with the exception of if they are already impeached, outside of this the right is granted for the president to pardon others without anything to stop them. This was written about by Hamilton who offered this on what he was part of crafting.

The President … shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

This is what the constitution states, it is rather simple, really does not leave much room for debate, the president has the right, and this has been equally stated by the Surpreme Court to pardon without any interference, in other words, Congress has no legal authority to stop such a pardon, they sure can’t overturn one, the only recourse they would have is to ammend the constitution, and there is a very good reason why this is rarely done, the founders made it very difficult to do, they wanted this not to be something you can do on the fly, you needed political support by a majority of the nation to put such a thing in motion.


Hamilton expanded on why he thought this power was important in The Federalist #74:

The criminal code of every country partakes so much of necessary severity, that without an easy access to exceptions in favor of unfortunate guilt, justice would wear a countenance too sanguinary and cruel. As the sense of responsibility is always strongest, in proportion as it is undivided, it may be inferred that a single man would be most ready to attend to the force of those motives which might plead for a mitigation of the rigor of the law, and least apt to yield to considerations which were calculated to shelter a fit object of its vengeance. The reflection that the fate of a fellow-creature depended on his sole fiat, would naturally inspire scrupulousness and caution; the dread of being accused of weakness or connivance, would beget equal circumspection, though of a different kind.

In today’s English, Justice can be blind, there are cases where conviction of a crime was not just, the person may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, may have been wrongfully convicted, or justice is applied unequally, there needs to be a mechanism to correct such things, that is what the pardon is.

So we can establish the president has a legal right, and authority, to pardon others, this is without question, although there is, and continues to be, political capital used everytime a pardon is given out. That could be why most presidents give out very few pardons until their last days or day of office; they are on the way out, their political capital is expended, there is nothing to be lost by doing this.

But what about a self-pardon? This becomes more tricky, while the president could theoretically give one to himself, he would set in motion a constitutional crisis due to the opposing views of this. One side, as I have shown, says the president has the legal right and authority to do such a thing, but there is the other view, and this has been confirmed by the Supreme Court, no one is about the law, we are a nation of laws, no one is above the law.  If the president proceeded to commit crimes, and then pardon himself as fast as he committed them, there would be the issue that he is showing he is above this law; this would not be equal representation under the law, this would be tyranny.

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I would love to say that the president can pardon himself, the rights are shown to be granted, but there is also the problem of being not subject to laws, the framers after seeing the kings in Europe do this, demanded that all be equal under the law, if the president were allowed such a thing unchecked this would show that he was not subject equally to the same laws as others, that would put the presidency above the law. While there are debates over if the president can be charged or convicted of a crime while in office, and that is a whole different article, the facts are once he steps down, the prosecution has the right and authority to arrest him, the second after he steps down from office, he has no protection from the office.

I will end this with this, while I think the president may have the right to try to exercise a self-pardon, I am not sure it would hold up to challenges in the courts, but even if it did, such a pardon would be under definition an admission of guilt,  such a move would expend all political leverage the president would hold, would result in an immediate move to impeach. No political party would be able to stand in the way of the impeachment; such a move would set back the party opposing such a move possibly decades of public outrage, not to mention the damage it would do to the political power of the office.

The great thing about this is this is hypothetical, no one has said Trump will pardon himself, even he has never said such a thing, the question was brought up in an interview by Rudy Giuliani, as you will see in the interview he never offered that this was something in the works, he was asked a hypothetical question, he found it humorous but answered it honestly:

The rest of the interview was lost, the left went into another psychotic melt down, all they heard was Trump could pardon himself, ignored that this was a hypothetical question, one that Giuliani quickly corrected, said while he could, he had no intent, but that did not matter, the sharks smelled blood.

This is the progressive mouth piece in the supposed news reaction:

The best explanation for this is from a Judge, if you are looking for answers, this is the one I would take as having a clue about this question:

The simple fact is the President has never said he had any intent of this, but that does not matter, what we see is just a continuation of the attacks against the president, if he says anything, it will be twisted and taken out of context until they report he said something he never said.






About The Author

Timothy Benton

Student of history, a journalist for the last 2 years. Specialize in Middle East History, more specifically modern history with the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Also, a political commentator has been a lifetime fan of politics.

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