While there are a couple of impeachment articles in the system, they had really no chance of gaining momentum against President Donald Trump. However, a real chance at impeachment has turned from hypothetical to potential reality. But, Trump claims that he can pardon himself, and if that is the case, what is the point of an impeachment, and why would it be possible for a president to self pardon?
Apparently, the self-pardon has been around forever, but no president has ever attempted it. In reality, it would be political suicide. In Trump’s case, that may not matter because he is as anti-political as any president or candidate has ever been. Brian Kalt, foreign policy writer for Business insider has been writing about the ability of a sitting president to pardon himself for years. He feels that legally, it would be an invalid pardon.
First of all, Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution states that the president has the power to give reprieves and pardons for offenses taken against the United States, except in the case of impeachment. Ah-ha! So, if impeached, Trump cannot self pardon. Now, the question is, what about a criminal prosecution? With Robert Mueller closing in as special counsel, investigating Trump and his administrations potential connections to Russia during and after the campaign and election, can Donald Trump, as the sitting President of the United States, be prosecuted?
It is not clear to anyone if a sitting president can be prosecuted while in office or not. Likely it would end up in the hands of Congress to determine if it is possible, and likely be backed up by the court system. However, if it is a criminal prosecution coming at the President, his son, Donald Jr., or anyone else in the administration, it appears that Trump could thwart it with a simple pardon. Following his presidency, he could definitely be prosecuted, and no longer have the power of pardon.
However, if Trump looks like he could be prosecuted after his presidency, he could pardon himself before leaving office, which would nullify a future prosecution. Confused yet? While he did not self-pardon, President Richard Nixon had not been indicted in the Watergate scandal, and resigned before being impeached. President Gerald Ford pardoned him for every federal offense he committed or may have committed while he was president, and that stopped any potential prosecution of the former president after he left office.
With no president ever trying to self pardon, or being prosecuted after trying to self-pardon, it is really a new world for prosecutors and the courts. However, this points to a major flaw in the office of the president. While the president is the leader of the United States, they are still just a person, and it appears they may have more power than they should actually have, and the ability to self-pardon is just one of these powers that should not be there. In fact, if a president does something wrong, he should be required to face the problem and pay for his wrongdoing, more so than any other person in the U.S. On top of the power to self-pardon, the fact that the president has the ability to fire the people investigating him should be removed. The fact that he fired the former FBI director Comey, and has considered firing Muller, and has the authority to do so, is wrong. If he is being investigated for crimes, and is guilty of crimes, he should face prosecution and not be allowed to continue as president. A criminal should not be sitting in the office of President of the United States.
However, whether he self-pardons or not, Trump is likely on his way out of office, three years before the end of his term. With the confession of Donald Trump Jr. going to a meeting with Russians hoping for dirt against Hillary Clinton during the campaign, losing six high-profile people in the White House administration in the first six months of his presidency, constant lies, potential personal ties to Russia, constant fighting and slander of the media through Twitter, and the inability to follow through on any campaign promise may force him to resign early. The thought that Donald Trump would step down may sound absurd, but if he is unable to do the job, he needs to step aside and let someone into the office who will be able to work with the Senate and Congress to get police done, otherwise the U.S. is without a true leader.
By Cletus Dillwood
Photo Courtesy The White House