Can president Trump pardon himself from the lawsuits against him?
- joensfcaLv 74 years agoFavorite Answer
Not civil lawsuits. It in unclear about criminal ones.
THE question of whether a sitting President can be indicted and criminally prosecuted has been, for most of the nation's history, an obscure matter for debate among constitutional scholars and legal historians. That changed last week, as it periodically does when allegations of impropriety and possible illegality start swirling around a President.
The inquiry by Kenneth W. Starr, the Whitewater independent counsel, into President Clinton's relationship with a former White House intern raised for the first time since Watergate the question of whether impeachment is the only means of pursuing potential criminal charges against a President or whether the ordinary processes of criminal law can go forward. While the question remains theoretical with respect to Mr. Clinton, in terms of possible charges of perjury, subornation of perjury and obstruction of justice, it was nonetheless being asked here as the unsettling week came to an end.
The short answer to one of the oldest of constitutional questions is that there is no clear answer. The Constitution's text, which sets out procedures for impeaching and removing executive branch officials and Federal judges from office, does not resolve the issue.
In giving the House of Representatives ''the sole power of impeachment'' and the Senate ''the sole power to try all impeachments,'' Article I of the Constitution does not indicate that impeachment is the exclusive means of bringing criminal charges against officials who are subject to impeachment. And in practice, impeachment has not been regarded as the exclusive means. Several Federal judges have recently been convicted first and impeached later; they remained judges following their criminal convictions because impeachment is the only way of removing a life-tenured judge from office.
Whatever the practice for other officials, the arguments surrounding the potential criminal prosecution of a President have always been somewhat different. Under the theory of the ''unitary executive,'' the President is seen as uniquely embodying the executive branch. Since prosecution is an executive branch function, this theory goes, it is counter to the constitutional structure for the President to be subject to prosecution.
The closest the Supreme Court has come to addressing this issue was in United States v. Nixon, the 1974 Watergate tapes case. The Court ruled 8 to 0 that President Richard M. Nixon could not invoke executive privilege to block the Watergate special prosecutor's subpoena for White House tapes.
In that case, the Court also agreed to decide a question raised by the White House of whether a sitting President could be criminally prosecuted. The Watergate grand jury had named Mr. Nixon as an unindicted co-conspirator, an action his lawyers said was a constitutional ''nullity,'' beyond the grand jury's authority.
That issue was fully briefed and argued, but was never decided. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger wrote that it was not necessary to address that question in order to resolve the executive privilege issue.
The briefs in that case, filed by James D. St. Clair, the White House lawyer, and Leon Jaworski, the Watergate special prosecutor, offer perhaps the strongest arguments ever made on both sides of the question at a time when the stakes could not have been higher.
Mr. St. Clair's brief for the President told the Court, ''It has never been seriously disputed by legal scholars, jurists, or constitutional authorities that a President may not be indicted while he is an incumbent.'' But, in fact, there is serious dispute, as the briefs themselves make clear.
Mr. St. Clair relied chiefly on two constitutional provisions for his argument that President Nixon could not be indicted or even named an unindicted co-conspirator. One was Section 1 of Article II, dealing with the office of the President, which declares that ''The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.'' Mr. St. Clair told the Court: ''The Presidency is the only branch of government that is vested exclusively in one person by the Constitution. Since the President's powers include control over all Federal prosecutions, it is hardly reasonable or sensible to consider the President subject to such prosecutions.''
Mr. St. Clair's second line of attack was based on a sentence in the discussion of the Senate's impeachment power in Article I, which says an impeached official, after conviction by the Senate, ''shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law.'' Mr. St. Clair said that showed that the Constitution's framers intended any prosecution to follow impeachment and removal from office, thus protecting a sitting President against criminal prosecution. He also quoted Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers as referring to an impeached President who ''would afterwards be liable to prosecution and punishment in the ordinary course of law.''
Refuting this argument, Mr. Jaworski said the sentence in Article I was simply the framers' way of insuring that an impeached official could not raise a double-jeopardy objection to a subsequent prosecution. He noted that the sentence applied to all officials who are subject to impeachment, not just the President, and so should not be interpreted as making impeachment the exclusive avenue for bringing criminal charges against a sitting President.
Full of Ambiguity
As for the ''unitary executive'' theory, Mr. Jaworski said the country ''has evolved since 1789'' as the executive branch has expanded to include not just the President but cabinet officers and other officials, and that the country functioned even when the President was disabled.
In fact, he said, nothing in the text or history of the Constitution ''imposes any bar to the indictment of an incumbent President.'' But he acknowledged that at the end of the day, the question was filled with ambiguity.
''It is an open and substantial question whether an incumbent President is subject to indictment,'' Mr. Jaworski's brief said. ''Resort to constitutional interpretation, history and policy does not provide a definitive answer to the question of whether a sitting President enjoys absolute immunity from the ordinary processes of the criminal law.''
- Anonymous4 years ago
Lawsuits are civil matters, not criminal. The prez has authority to pardon people for crimes they may or may not have committed. I don't think he can give himself a presidential pardon, but that would be decided by the courts.
- BlackadderLv 74 years ago
No and as those 'law suits' are frivolous political distractions, they will be dismissed within days, if they haven't been already. They're of no use now.
- Anonymous4 years ago
No. They are civil not criminal. However, it is also difficult to sue a sitting President or member of government.
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- Anonymous4 years ago
- 4 years ago
- TepeeLv 74 years ago
No he cannot do that.