Pardon and Prison: An Analysis of Trump’s Pardon Power and How It Could Lead to Obstruction

Johnny P
5 min readDec 5, 2018
Photo by Anna Sullivan on Unsplash

What are the limits of Trump’s pardon power? Can he offer it to any of his former associates facing prison time in exchange for their loyalty? Could the use of his pardon power lead to charges as a result of the Mueller investigation?

Americans have endured extraordinary times since Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to handle the Russia Investigation. Despite what critics may say, Mueller and his team have acted with surgical precision, piecing together a puzzle of lies, corruption, money laundering, and collusion. When there is this much smoke, it is hard to believe the fire does not emanate from its central source: Donald Trump.

Below is an analysis of Trump’s ability to save himself and his associates with his pardon power. The analysis also examines what charges Mueller might be able to bring should Trump try to pardon potential co-conspirators, or even himself.

What are the Limits of the Presidential Pardon Power?

Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution states that the President “shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”

It’s important to note that the pardon power of thePresident applies only to convictions under federal law. Accordingly, state law judgments fall outside the bounds of the President’s power to pardon (that means states like New York could potentially charge Manafort for similar crimes that he’s currently accused of at the federal level).

The second, and perhaps most obvious, limitation to the President’s pardon power is in cases of impeachment, where he’s prohibited from saving himself or another official if they have been formally impeached.

The question of whether the President can pardon himself isa murkier one because no President has ever tried. The best argument in a President’s favor is the fact the Constitution does not expressly prohibit him from doing it.

Nevertheless, most legal scholars argue that such a pardon would be unconstitutional. Underpinning the entire U.S. Constitution is the principle of the rule of law, which prohibits anyone from being a judge…

Johnny P

Lawyer, enthusiast, filmmaker. Open for gigs: