Daniel Medwed in News@Northeastern: Who else could President pardon? Joe Exotic? Himself?
by Daniel Medwed
President Donald Trump, who recently granted a pardon to former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn, has tweeted that he has the right to grant clemency to himself. Whether that’s true isn’t clear, since it has never been attempted, according to professors from Northeastern.
And though the Supreme Court could ultimately decide the issue, the justices might choose not to consider the matter, professors say.
“Now that there is a strong conservative majority on the Supreme Court, it seems very unlikely that they would consider—much less overrule—any pardons by Trump, including of himself, and absent that, he can basically do whatever he wants,” says Nick Beauchamp, assistant professor of political science.
Talk of pardons heated up recently when the New York Times reported that Trump has talked to advisers about whether to grant preemptive pardons to his children, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and his personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani.
Close political allies such as Fox News host Sean Hannity and Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz have encouraged the president to protect himself and those close to him from what they say would be politically-motivated prosecutions.
“President Trump should pardon Michael Flynn. He should pardon the Thanksgiving turkey. He should pardon everyone from himself to his administration officials to Joe Exotic if he has to,” Gaetz said in November on Fox News’s “The Ingraham Angle.”
A self-pardon would shield Trump only from federal prosecution, not state prosecutions, says Daniel Medwed, university distinguished professor of law and criminal justice. “So he could still potentially face state criminal charges for his past actions, depending on the applicable statute of limitations,” he says.