President Trump this morning has caused a stir by declaring that he can grant himself a self-pardon. As I argue in today’s column and prior writings (here and here), he is right.
In his tweet today, Trump declared:
It would likely be used as an impeachment allegation, though that could raise some interesting questions. Unlike the argument that a President cannot be indicted in office (which I have long rejected), the use of pardon authority presents a more difficult question for both obstruction and impeachment claims. This is a power left to presidents without limitation beyond barring its use to effectively block an impeachment.
To use pardons in an obstruction case would be a complicating factor for appeal. All pardons are about negating a conviction or barring a prosecution. They are in the sense naturally obstructive. A court would have a difficult time separating what is constitutionally permitted and what is criminally actionable over a straight pardon claim. Impeachments allow for a broader definition to address abuses of powers.
What do you think?