Skip to main content
Global Edition
Saturday, January 23, 2021

Could Trump pardon his family - or himself?

Duration: 02:55s 0 shares 1 views
Could Trump pardon his family - or himself?
Could Trump pardon his family - or himself?

[NFA] U.S. President Donald Trump's pardoning of his former adviser Michael Flynn has fueled speculation over whether he could pardon other associates, and even members of his family, during his final weeks in office.

Emma Jehle reports.

**EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: THIS VIDEO HAS BEEN UPDATED TO CORRECT GERALD FORD BEING REFERRED TO AS NIXON'S PREDECESSOR TO SUCCESSOR** U.S. President Donald Trump's pardoning of his former adviser, Michael Flynn, has fueled speculation over whether he’ll go on a last-ditch spree, pardoning other associates, members of his family, and even himself.

Reuters’ correspondent Jan Wolfe: “It can be abused, one could say.

Bill Clinton, when he left office, issued hundreds of pardons, showed a lot of leniency to people close to him and his inner circle donors, his half brother.

So because of that history, there is this concern that Trump, on his way out of office, feeling less concerned about his reelection chances, could issue a flurry of pardons.” Pardons are typically given to people who have been prosecuted.

They can cover conduct that has not resulted in legal proceedings, but can’t apply to things that haven’t happened yet.

The pardon power is one of the broadest available to a president.

The nation's founders saw it as a way to show mercy and serve the public good.

A pardon can't be reviewed by other branches of government and no reason has to be given for issuing one.

But the power is not absolute.

Crucially, a pardon only applies to federal crimes.

It is legal for Trump to pardon his inner circle, including members of his family.

In 2001, former President Bill Clinton pardoned his brother, Roger – who was convicted for cocaine possession in Arkansas.

Clinton pardoned about 450 people, including a Democratic Party donor, Marc Rich, who fled the country because of tax evasion charges.

But it’s unclear how broadly worded a pardon can be.

Former president Richard Nixon received a pardon from his successor, Gerald Ford.

It absolved Nixon for all criminal offenses he committed or may have taken part in during his presidency.

But the U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled on whether such a pardon is lawful.

Some scholars have argued the nation's founders intended for pardons to be specific and that there is an implied limit on their scope.

In 2018, Trump said he had the "absolute right" to pardon himself – a claim many constitutional law scholars dispute.

No one knows definitively if it would be valid or not.

“The pardon power is very broad, but a lot of people think a president can pardon himself or herself, that would just go too far.

The Constitution doesn't address this, but if you just think about what the pardon was designed to do, show mercy, it just seems to go a bit too far.

You'd essentially be making the president, the judge in his case or her own case, and that smacks of injustice.” For a court to rule on its validity, experts say a federal prosecutor would have to charge Trump with a crime and Trump would have to raise the pardon as a defense.


Related news coverage

Local Man Pardoned

WDEF CBS Chattanooga, TN

We are there for the homecoming of a local man who was pardoned by President Trump on his last day in office.

You might like

More coverage