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Donald Trump could pardon himself – what a mess that would be

Yes, Trump Could Pardon Himself. Then All Hell Would Break Loose, It’s never been tried. Here’s how it could blow up his presidency, or blow up the system. Politico, By RICHARD PRIMUS July 21, 2017 This week’s eye-popping constitutional question: Can President Trump pardon himself for criminal wrongdoing? With the Russia scandal swirling more intensely around the White House every week, the Washington Post reported Friday morning that the president might be considering pardoning himself and members of his family as a way of fending off legal consequences for whatever special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation turns up.

A self-pardon would be something new in American history — and just the kind of departure from prior norms that typifies Trump. The Constitution doesn’t specify whether the president can pardon himself, and no court has ever ruled on the issue, because no president has ever been brazen enough to try it. Among constitutional lawyers, the dominant (though not unanimous) answer is “no,” in part because letting any person exempt himself from criminal liability would be a fundamental affront to America’s basic rule-of-law values.

But as a practical matter, it’s not a panel of legal experts that will decide this issue. It probably won’t be a court, either. Instead, the answer will be fought out at the highest levels of American politics. And in real life, if the president signed a document with the words “I pardon myself”—which he certainly could—it’s impossible to know what would happen next.

Given the political firestorm that a self-pardon might provoke and the broader norm-smashing context of the Trump administration, an attempted self-pardon could do anything from keeping Trump out of jail to bringing down his presidency and landing him in the dock. Or it could do nothing at all—which would be troubling, too. All we can know for sure is that it would take our system, once again, into uncharted territory.

Here’s one possible scenario. Suppose the president announces a self-pardon, and Republicans in Congress follow the script they’ve used until this point: They express concern at the behavior but make no serious move to punish the president for it. The legal effect of the pardon would then go untested for years. A pardon is a shield against a prosecution, and in the absence of a potential prosecution it has no work to do. As long as Trump is president, there won’t be any prosecution to put it to the test, because a sitting president probably can’t be prosecuted for a crime. Again, this isn’t a certainty—the Supreme Court has made clear that a sitting president can be sued in a civil suit, as Bill Clinton was by Paula Jones—but the dominant view on the criminal side is that a President must be impeached and removed from office before he can be a criminal defendant. So while Trump remains president, an attempted self-pardon would be like an umbrella that hasn’t been taken out in the rain: We don’t know yet whether it works, or how well………

another possible future, if Trump announces a self pardon: It could be the moment that Republicans in Congress decide he has finally stepped over the line. To be sure, Congress has shown no inclination to remove the president to this point, and maybe it never will. But as the Supreme Court noted long ago, a pardon suggests the existence of illegal behavior—and a self-pardon itself would represent such flagrant disrespect for rule-of-law values that if anything could push Congress toward impeaching and removing the president, this might.

In that case, Congress wouldn’t just be stripping Trump of his presidency: In all likelihood, it would be converting his ostensible pardon from a shield against prosecution into one more reason to move against him. After all, the decision to impeach would, in itself, all but establish that self-pardons are inconsistent with American constitutional norms. …..http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/07/21/yes-trump-could-pardon-himself-then-all-hell-would-break-loose-215405

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July 24, 2017 - Posted by | politics, USA

1 Comment »

  1. Donald Trump does not have anything to be pardoned from.

    Comment by artiewhitefox | July 24, 2017 | Reply


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