The Pardon Powers, Can Trump Pardon himself and Will he go?



Adeyemi Oshunrinade

December 1, 2020

Almost a month since the elections, many are worried and confused thinking President Trump won’t leave. If you feel that way, no need to panic. Joe Biden is the President-Elect and come noon January 20, 2021, Trump would be a trespasser, the Constitution is pretty clear on that.

The White House is the people’s house. In 2016 Trump was hired with benefits by the American people, among his benefits was to reside for four years in the White House with his family. His contract is now over, the electorates have a new hire, it is time for Trump to vacate the residence.

Since his glaring loss, Trump refused to accept the results, while engaged in a campaign to overturn the wish of voters. Despite having his challenge thrown out multiple times in courts, he and his followers remain under the illusions that he won. In fact, he recently tweeted: “no way we lost,” ignoring the DHS’ certification by Christopher Krebs that “it was the most secured election in U.S. history.”

The incumbent has time and again accused the opposition of voter fraud and continued to hit out at Biden and Harris incoming administration of using rigged election to gain votes. So far, the Trump campaign has failed to cite a single evidence of voter fraud as his Attorneys headed by Rudy Giuliani, delved into falsehoods and conspiracy theories in a desperate move to secure a win for Trump. In a weird attempt, the President urges state legislatures and courts to help flip election results in his favor, an apparent subversion and attack on democracy, making the U.S. look like a Banana Republic.

Since losing the election in a landslide, Trump has been doing everything to undermine the incoming Biden administration, the goal is to delegitimize Biden as a winner by continuously calling the election rigged until his followers and possibly majority of Americans believe his lies. Knowing his days in office are numbered and the possibility of Biden overturning his executive orders, he’s introducing aggressive foreign policy tactics to make change difficult for the Biden administration.

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Trump has ordered the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan by end of December, a move military expert believe would send bad signal to the Taliban and other terrorist organizations ready to seize on the vacuum left to topple already weak Afghan government.

In another attempt to disrupt U.S. foreign policy, Iran’s top nuclear scientist Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated and based on reports, his killing has the hallmark of Israel, a state assassination that could not take place without knowledge of the Trump administration. The goal, to make it impossible for the Biden administration to rejoin the JCPOA, a nuclear agreement the Trump administration withdrew from.

The Trump campaign knew he lost the election. The President himself is aware Biden won but his ego could not let go, making it impossible to concede but instead, he engaged in attack campaigns and info-warfare to deceive his followers into believing he was cheated. In fact, US Attorney General William Barr a loyalist of Trump recently said: “No evidence of fraud that would change election.” Meanwhile, the Republican party too has become complacent as its leadership remained gripped by fear of a President whose incompetence led to the loss of 269,000 American lives to Covid, a leader who went golfing as cases of infection spiked.

Now that state certifications of the election make it apparent there would be a transition, the President is considering series of pardons for his enablers and those convicted of crimes committed linked to the Russia probe. He recently sent a retweet about pardoning himself, many believe he intends to do just that, while also possible he may pardon his family.

Whether a President can pardon himself for any crime is a constitutional question. The fact is, such a scenario has never been tested. Article II section 2 of the U.S. Constitution clearly states: “the President shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”

While the President may pardon others, the constitution does not give him the power to be the judge and jury in his own case. However, pardon powers are only applicable to federal crimes and not to state prosecutions. The idea that there is a magic wand to make his crimes go away, while most are pending state charges is wishful thinking. Trump cannot pardon himself and he can’t pardon future crimes not yet committed. While the Constitution can be subject to interpretation on pardon powers, it is highly unlikely the founders intended it to protect a corrupt President from prosecution.

The only route to a pardon for Trump is if he gets one from a future President. A perfect example was Nixon who got pardoned by Gerald Ford in 1974, something Biden has indicated he would not do.

The other option is for Trump to step down briefly for Mike Pence his Vice President to take over and offer him one. Even with that, a pardon means admission of guilt for a crime so, it is unclear how that would look on Trump’s resume, knowing that getting a federal pardon won’t preclude him from state prosecution. Pence may have to show he received nothing of value for issuing such pardon, but in such situation, a thing of value would be the Presidency.

Any self-pardon by the President is a recipe for constitutional crisis. A thought of such makes mockery of the justice system, elevates the President above the law and creates the possibility of a future President abusing his authority with the expectation of immunity from prosecution. The founders did not create the pardon powers as a shield for political corruption, they endowed the President with the power for him to grant pardons to those deserving of them. To date, no President has ever taken the action to pardon himself.

Adeyemi Oshunrinade is an expert in law, foreign relations and the United Nations. He is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ Constitutional Law-First Amendment ‘Criminal Law-Homicide’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ available on Amazon. Follow on Twitter @san0670.

Video by CNN.





Categories: Constitutional Law, Current Affair, Politics

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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