No, Trump can’t pardon himself. The Constitution tells us so

Laurence H. Tribe, Richard Painter and Norman Eisen write: Can a president pardon himself? Four days before Richard Nixon resigned, his own Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel opined no, citing “the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case.” We agree.

The Justice Department was right that guidance could be found in the enduring principles that no one can be both the judge and the defendant in the same matter, and that no one is above the law.

The Constitution specifically bars the president from using the pardon power to prevent his own impeachment and removal. It adds that any official removed through impeachment remains fully subject to criminal prosecution. That provision would make no sense if the president could pardon himself. [Continue reading…]

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2 thoughts on “No, Trump can’t pardon himself. The Constitution tells us so

  1. Dieter Heymann

    In the end it is only the US Supreme Court which can render a final rule on this issue. Question: who can bring the suit? Probably only the President.
    The impeachment issue is irrelevant. The President can pardon the Vice President who can still be impeached.
    I understand the “no one may be a judge in his own case” but it rings false. Was President Ford a judge when he pardoned Nixon? Did he thereby erase any guilt implied by his pardon? That I doubt.
    Furthermore, if a President cannot pardon himself that seems to conflict with the principle that everyone is equal under the law. The President would be the only American who cannot be pardoned. That does not seem to be right either.
    Perhaps a constitutional amendment is needed which states clearly who is authorized to pardon a sitting President. If it is simple and non-controversial it might be in our constitution quickly.

  2. hquain

    It seems to me that the more pressing question is whether the investigation can proceed when its principal targets can no longer be charged. If not, then the obvious move is to issues those pardons and force Mueller to call the whole thing off. Trump is then beyond the reach of the law, without having to appoint his horse to the Senate or declare himself a god.

    The Republicans would then claim that Trump had heroically stepped in to stop a ‘divisive’ witch-hunt against aggrieved innocents. This smooth path to untrammeled autocracy is feasible, of course, only to the extent that Trump has insulated himself from his crimes by a wall of pardonable intermediaries.

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