Last night, word surfaced that Donald Trump has begun inquiring as to whether he can pardon himself in a last ditch effort at getting away with his numerous crimes. The public largely interpreted this as a sign that Trump has finally realized how much trouble he’s in, and how limited his remaining options are. But now some legal expert are saying that Trump has literally no way out of this under the law.
This evening the Washington Post published an scholarly article that was jointly credited to three prominent legal experts: Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, University of Minnesota Law Professor Richard Painter, and Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Norm Eisen. Their joint conclusion is that the Constitution makes clear the President cannot pardon himself, period (link). Painter then appeared on television and took things even further.
Painter, who was the chief White House ethics lawyer in the latter years of the George W. Bush administration, appeared on MSNBC late Friday evening and stated that there is “not a single example of a self-pardon anywhere that I can find. The concept makes no legal sense. The Office of Legal Counsel advised in the Nixon administration years that you could not do that, the president could not do that. So that’s off the table.” But then he took a jab directly at Donald Trump, which helped to spell out just how screwed Trump really is when it comes to his current situation.
Richard Painter summed up his legal findings by suggesting that Trump should “look into other options. Maybe, I don’t know, go join Mr. Snowden over in Moscow or something. But this self-pardon idea is not gonna work.” And again, this is expert legal interpretation of a widely respected ethics lawyer from a Republican administration. If you find Palmer Report valuable, make a donation.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report