Washington Buzzing About A Presidential Pardon for Roger Clemens

The attorney for Brian McNamee, Richard Emery, started a firestorm over his suggestion that Roger Clemens could receive a pardon from President Bush if accused of lying about his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs. It is possible for the president to grant such a pardon in anticipation of a criminal charge, though it would be an facial abuse of authority.

A president can grant a prospective or anticipatory pardon — as was done with Richard Nixon. It is, however, highly irregular and improper under modern pardon policies. The legal process often reveals incriminating details in a criminal case. In the Clemens matter, the most that Bush know of Clemens is that he is the seven-time Cy Young Award winner and a sport icon — and a friend.

Article II, Section 2, states that the president “shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” This great power includes the lesser included powers such as conditional pardons, commutations of sentence, conditional commutations of sentence, remissions of fines and forfeitures, and other forms of relief.

To grant Clemens a pardon would guarantee that Bush would add to his questionable legacy the abuse of pardon authority. It is precisely the legacy earned by Bill Clinton in his shocking abuse of the authority in his final days. This includes the pardoning of a family member, Roger Clinton — an act of corruption in the use of official office to benefit a family member. He also pardoned billionaire fugitive Marc Rich and other controversial figures who lacked any meritorious claims for such extraordinary relief. Bush, of course, may already be prepared for criticism in the pardon of those individuals who carried out unlawful acts of torture or electronic surveillance.

Presidents have largely yielded to good public policy in allowing the criminal justice system to determine the merits of criminal charges — and to allow appellate courts to review such determinations. It is rare for a pardon to be considered before the completion of the direct appeal. The only exception tend to be people like the Iran-Contra defendants and Scooter Libby who are accused of crimes related to their official duties. Yet, even Libby was required to go through a criminal trial and sentencing — as well as initial appeals.

For the full story on the Clemens pardon, click here

2 thoughts on “Washington Buzzing About A Presidential Pardon for Roger Clemens”

  1. It’s been talked about on 2 radio stations, first on Chicago’s WVON-AM 1690 http://www.wvon.com and on Air America, that Clemens is a Bush-loving lying Republican scumbag, which is the main reason the lying corrupt Republicans defended him.

    No doubt that Clemens does believe Bush will pardon him, but the more likely scenario is that the U.S. Justice Department will simply not file perjury charges in the first place, saying that Clemens’ accuser, Brian McNamee, is a liar that can’t be believed.

    When that sanctimonious lying fascist crook Dan Burton, among other Republicans, called McNamee a liar, a drug dealer, etc., they were doing so with the intent of making perjury charges against Clemens an impossibility. A sports reporter on my local radio show said that Clemens will most likely never be charged with perjury at all because McNamee has been made out to be a sleazy liar who can’t be believed.

    This situation resembles that of the kid who got caught stealing cookies from the cookie jar, but the kid stealing cookies gets away with it because he was caught by the boy who cried wolf, and no one is going to believe the boy who cried wolf. Regrettaly, the lying criminal Clemens sits in the same cat-bird seat, namely that he was caught lying by a person who is himself seen as a liar and other negative things.

  2. Waiting for someone to post on this. Got tired of seen zero comments. Don’t know Roger Clemens from Roger Rabbit or Roger Dodger for that matter. But since pardons are being mentioned and the House has issued contempt citations, here is the CRS take on the President’s power to rescue his officials from congressional contempt proceedings:

    “While it is true that the President can immunize persons from criminal prosecution, it does not appear that he has authority to immunize a witness from congressional inherent contempt proceeding. . . . A finding of inherent contempt against an executive branch official[] does not appear to be subject to the President’s Pardon power. . . .

    Although the contemnor can seek judicial review by means of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, the scope of such review may be relatively limited, compared to the plenary review accorded by the courts in cases of conviction under the criminal contempt statute.”

    music to many ears.

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