President Donald Trump has prepared a sweeping list of individuals he’s hoping to pardon in the final days of his administration that includes senior White House officials, family members, prominent rappers — and possibly himself, according to people familiar with the matter.
Trump is hoping to announce the pardons on Jan. 19 — his final full day in office — and his ideas are currently being vetted by senior advisers and the White House counsel’s office, the people said.
The biggest question facing his legal team may be whether the president has the authority to pardon himself, as he has discussed in recent weeks with top aides, according to the people familiar with his conversations. Trump has previously claimed the power, though it’s a matter of legal dispute and has never before been attempted by a president.
A self-pardon could also prove a major political liability and hamstring another presidential bid, with opponents sure to suggest the self-pardon amounted to an admission that he thought he might be prosecuted for breaking the law. [Continue reading…]
The Justice Department said in a short August 1974 opinion, just four days before Mr. Nixon resigned, that “it would seem” that presidents cannot pardon themselves “under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case.”
But the president is not bound by those opinions, and there is nothing stopping Mr. Trump from signing a pardon for himself. The questions would be whether the Justice Department under another president would honor the pardon and set aside any potential prosecution of Mr. Trump and, if he were prosecuted, whether the judicial system would ultimately decide whether the pardon insulates Mr. Trump from facing charges.
“Only a court can invalidate a self-pardon, and it can only do so if the Biden administration brings a case against Trump,” [Harvard law professor, Jack] Goldsmith said. “A Trump self-pardon would thus make it more likely the Biden team prosecutes Trump for crimes committed in office.” [Continue reading…]