Yesterday Donald Trump took to Twitter to claim he has the ability to Pardon himself.
As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong? In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2018
This argument was first made the night before by his lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Now, the media and left have been freaking out about this. They see this as some sort of proof that Trump knows he’s guilty of collusion. What they don’t consider is what we have seen from Mueller. Mueller has looked everywhere but Russia while investigating him. He has looked into his business, personal tax history, and Obstruction charges. Have they not considered that Trump might use some semblance of Pardon power on himself to protect his business from an attack from Mueller. How about an Obstruction of Justice charge? A Law and Crime article, originally written surrounding Hillary Clinton pardoning herself lays out Trump’s case.
Now, back to January 20, 2017. Could a future President Hillary Clinton pardon herself?
The short answer is she could certainly try, and may very well get away with it. What’s more, there is likely little Congress could do about it — even with a Republican controlled House of Representatives and Senate. Here is why.
The president’s pardon power comes from Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution that provides, “The President … shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.”
Based on the language of Article II, Section 2, the only limits placed on the power are that pardons may only be issued for federal offenses (not civil or state crimes), and a pardon cannot override the Congress’ impeachment power. Presidents have used this power to issue pardons in a wide range of matters throughout the country’s history. However, no president has ever attempted to pardon himself.
As a result, the legality of the self-pardon remains an open question. There are persuasive arguments on both sides. For the sake of brevity, the two arguments can be boiled down to this: (1) those that argue a self-pardon violates longstanding legal principals that a person should not act as their own judge and that no person is above the law; and (2) those, including Richard Nixon’s attorneys in the aftermath of Watergate, that argue that power to pardon is broad and unlimited, except for the two specific limitations mentioned in the Constitution.