No, POTUS cannot pardon himself
Ostensibly, I am the political science writer for these pages. Certainly, others dabble in politics all the time, but if I had to categorize my own assignment and/or status, it would be the Poli Sci Guy.
The problem is that “science” implies logic. Common sense. Facts. Cause and effect.
Six months into his tenure, POTUS still enjoys the support of 80 percent of the GOP.
Despite “I will release my tax returns.”
Despite “I will not touch Medicare.”
Despite “Who knew healthcare was this complicated?”
“There were no meetings with Russia.” “Well, I didn’t know there were any meetings.” “The meetings were about business.” “The meetings were about many things, but all perfectly legal.”
“There was no Russian influence.” Yesterday, Pompeo said there was Russian influence, “…in this election, in the last election, and the one before that…”
Look, I don’t need to go on and on about the shenanigans in this White House, the utter chaos in this administration. Anybody who’s paying attention knows what’s been going on for the last six months, and if you are one of the many who are not paying attention, shame on you.
For years and years, we have watched the double standard that the Republicans have. As long as you are one of theirs, you are forgiven — even if you get caught being gay in a restroom in a Minnesota airport, or consorting with hookers in Texas.
“The party of God” on Sunday ignores transgressions for the rest of the week.
So, where are we now?
POTUS is thinking seriously about firing his earliest supporter, Jeff Sessions, from his job as Attorney General, for having integrity (a little, anyway, right?) and recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
He is also thinking seriously about firing the second Special Investigator, Robert Mueller, a man of integrity by all accounts, who is now reportedly investigating Trump’s business dealings with Russia.
To hear many people speak, even those in the GOP with integrity, a second firing from each of these two positions would bring about a Constitutional crisis.
It most certainly would, just as it did when Nixon fired Archibald Cox from his position of SI.
The United States Attorney General has a Pardons Section. Lawrence Kupers runs it, and there are statutory guidelines for pardons.
Richard Nixon being pardoned by Gerald Ford notwithstanding, here is what the statute says:
§ 1.2 Eligibility for filing petition for pardon.
“No petition for pardon should be filed until the expiration of a waiting period of at least five years after the date of the release of the petitioner from confinement or, in case no prison sentence was imposed, until the expiration of a period of at least five years after the date of the conviction of the petitioner. Generally, no petition should be submitted by a person who is on probation, parole, or supervised release.”
It is very clear, then, that pardons cannot be granted for people not convicted of a federal offense, and not before they have been free from some sort of bondage for at least five years.
End of discussion.
Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution states about POTUS: “and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment”.
It seems to me that the legal issue here is clear. POTUS cannot interfere with any impeachment process — OR WITH OFFENSES THAT MIGHT LEAD TO IMPEACHMENT.
Impeachment deals with, most notably, “high crimes and misdemeanors,” and other offenses against the United States.
Any pardon before impeachment commences still constitutes a case of impeachment, and the Constitutional Convention’s intent is clear. If impeachable crimes were pardoned, they disappear, and so do the grounds for impeachment.
So, no, POTUS cannot pardon himself, his VP, or anybody else that has not been convicted of federal crimes.
End of discussion, and I frankly do not know why we are having the conversation. Granted, it has never been adjudicated, but methinks that even that idiot Clarence Thomas couldn’t screw this one up.
But that’s just me.
Pardon me, I am off to feed the cat and make breakfast.