President Trump has suggested to aides he wants to pardon himself in the final days of his presidency, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions, a move that would mark one of the most extraordinary and untested uses of presidential power in American history.
In several conversations since Election Day, Mr. Trump has told advisers that he is considering giving himself a pardon and, in other instances, asked whether he should and what the impact would be on him legally and politically, according to the two people. It was not clear whether he has broached the topic since he incited his supporters on Wednesday to storm the Capitol in a mob attack.
Mr. Trump has shown signs that his level of interest in pardoning himself goes beyond idle musings. He has long maintained he has the power to pardon himself and his polling of aides’ views is typically a sign that he is preparing to follow through on his aims. He has also become increasingly convinced that his perceived enemies will use the levers of law enforcement to target him after he leaves office.
No president has pardoned himself, so the legitimacy of prospective self-clemency has never been tested in the justice system and legal scholars are divided about whether the courts would recognize it. But they agree a presidential self-pardon could create a dangerous new precedent for presidents to unilaterally declare they are above the law and to insulate themselves from being held accountable for any crimes they committed in office.
A White House spokesman did not respond to a request comment.
Mr. Trump has considered a range of pre-emptive pardons for family, including his three oldest children — Donald Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump — Ms. Trump’s husband, the senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, and for close associates like the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. Mr. Trump has expressed concerns to advisers that a Biden Justice Department might investigate all of them.
Mr. Trump, who has told advisers how much he likes having the power to issue clemency, has for weeks solicited aides and allies for suggestions on whom to pardon. He has also offered pre-emptive pardons to advisers and administration officials. Many were taken them aback because they did not believe they were in legal jeopardy and that accepting his offer would be seen as an admission of guilt, according to the two people.
After yesterday, it's clear now that Trump will crucify anyone who doesn't support him until the bloody end and leave them to the tender mercies of Merrick Garland. It's also clear he's going to pardon himself, and that we're going to have this power tested in a Supreme Court that is 6-3 conservative.
If they side with Trump, our country is lost.