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June 5, 2018 - 9:20am

Today's Poll: Should the president be able to pardon himself?

posted by Howard B. Owens in polls.
Tim Miller
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ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!

I don't care who is President - that person is PRESIDENT, not KING, and still must abide by the laws of this nation.

Jeffery White
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I'm 100% certain Republicans would have been just fine with Clinton pardoning himself, no way that would have been controversial.

tom hunt
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The trouble is at this the highest level of Government, the laws are in a grey area. What is illegal and what is Presidential Authority is up for interpretation.

Brian Heick
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You can bet that all the self-labeled deplorables will say that Trump can do no wrong. They tend forget that the nation we live in was founded as a democracy, not a monarchy. The idea that no man should be above the law and the government answers to the people is firmly established in our constitution and laws. This includes presidents attempting to act like despots.

Howard B. Owens
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In the abstract, Trump is correct. He can pardon himself. There's nothing in the Constitution that says he can't. There's also nothing in the Constitution that says he can.

But the cause for impeachment is also ambiguous. If a president pardoned himself, even Guilanni believes there would be an immediate move for impeachment and he believes properly so (so he says now).

All of this talk from Trump and his attorneys about the president being above the law in one way or another should concern every citizen. It's bad mojo. I don't care how much you live Trump, if you value democracy and freedom and American values, you should be very concerned about this kind of thinking. Someday there will be another president whose politics you don't like -- do you want him or her claiming this kind of immunity from the law and norms? That's how emperors come to power. They claim powers beyond what constrained previous leaders, they cross the Rubicon, and nobody stops them. That sort of power grab can come as easily from the left or the right.

Gary Spencer
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I never promised you a rose garden...........

Kevin Volk
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I think that because the person holding the office of President is a citizen, and thus subject to the law, the President can issue a self-pardon, but never should do so.

Burdick v. United States dealt with a few important questions related to the nature of the pardon, specifically, whether it is an absolute imposition, and what it means to accept one.

One point made is that acceptance of a pardon is essentially a confession of guilt--obviously, there is no subsequent punishment, but if the accused is not guilty, then why not seek acquittal?

Another is that if no prosecution for criminal offences is possible, then there is no longer any need to remain silent on the witness stand. This is the reason for immunity deals for witnesses at trial, and this was the reason that Burdick wanted to refuse his pardon: if a pardon can be forced on a person, then that person, having immunity, must testify, and Burdick was being held because he, as a journalist, used the Fifth Amendment to refuse to identify his sources.

Therefore, if the President were to issue a self-pardon for criminal activities, then the presumable immediate effect would be, first, to force an impeachment issue (because a pardon cannot be used to dodge impeachment) by the implied admission of guilt, and second, to invite subpoena to testify about those criminal activities, because--the issue of incrimination being already decided--there would no longer be any Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

That being said, if President Trump were to be formally accused of a crime, a pardon might actually be necessary because the alternative would require the court to find an impartial jury, and that may prove impossible.

Howard B. Owens
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Very interesting comment, Kevin. Thanks.

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