Throughout the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week, Amy Coney Barrett has repeatedly refused to rule out the possibility that Trump can pardon himself as president, which legal experts broadly agree would be an abuse of power.
Trump has repeatedly claimed that he has unlimited power to pardon himself.
TRUMP: “The U.S. president has the complete power to pardon.”
TRUMP: “I have the absolute right to PARDON myself.”
Barrett was repeatedly asked whether the president can pardon himself – and refused to answer.
NPR: “Amy Coney Barrett declined to address whether she believes President Trump has the power to pardon himself, calling it a matter that could come before the Supreme Court after she is confirmed. ‘That would be a legal question. That would be a Constitutional question — and so in keeping with my obligation not to give hints, previews or forecasts of how I would resolve a case, that’s not one that I can answer,’ she said.”
LEAHY: “President Trump claims that he has an absolute right to pardon himself. Now, for 200 years the Supreme Court has recognized the common law principal that that nobody can be a judge in their own case. I had to go way back and reread Calder vs. Bull to see that. Would you agree first that nobody is above the law, not the President, not you, not me. Is that correct?” BARRETT: “I agree no one is above the law.” LEAHY: “And does a president have an absolute right to pardon himself for a crime? We heard this question after President Nixon’s impeachment.” BARRETT: “Senator Leahy so far as I know that question has never been litigated, that question has never arisen. That question may or may not arise, but it’s one that calls for a legal analysis of what the scope of the pardon power is. So because it would be opining on an open question when I haven’t gone through the judicial process to decide it, it’s not one on which I can offer a view.”
Legal experts broadly agree that it would be an abuse of power for the president to pardon himself.
Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel: “Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the president cannot pardon himself.”
Columbia Law Professor Philip Bobbit: “A self-pardon by the president is incompatible with the provision of Article II, Section 3 that ‘he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed’ and the provision of Article II, Section 1 that “executive power shall be vested in a President.”
Former Federal Prosecutor Renato Mariotti: “Lately the president and his team have made unusual and extreme legal arguments. They’ve argued that Trump can pardon himself, that he has unlimited power to investigate his enemies and stop investigations of his friends, and that he can’t obstruct justice because he has unlimited prosecutorial power. These sound like the powers of a dictator or king, not a president. Many legal experts call these arguments ‘novel’. That is accurate because no president has ever publicly made these arguments before. But it doesn’t go far enough. The reason these arguments have never been made before is that they are extreme and dangerous. Although the arguments are without precedent, it is hard for me to believe that courts would conclude that the president can commit crimes with impunity and abuse prosecutorial power for his own gain.”
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