Can Hillary Clinton pardon herself?
Far-fetched? Perhaps not.
Let us see what the United States Constitution says on the matter.
“The President… shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in cases of Impeachment” – Article II, Section 2 – U.S. Constitution
Those few words quoted above are all that our Constitution says about the President’s sweeping power of Pardon Rights. Simple. Powerful. Broad.
There are only two limitations set forth by these words.
- The pardons may only be granted for federal offences – (“against the United States”) – not for state or civil cases
- A Pardon cannot override a Congressional Impeachment or Congressional impeachment power.
Limitation 1. is succinct and self-explanatory
Limitation 2. slightly less so
“The President…shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” – Article II, Section 4 – U.S. Constitution
The language from the Constitution would seem to imply that Congress could impeach Clinton (if elected President) for federal offences if they desired. And they can. BUT – only for federal offenses committed while in the office she is being impeached from.
Allow me to introduce you to Schuyler Colfax. Mr. Colfax was the Vice President in 1873. While a member of the House, Mr. Colfax took bribes in exchange for votes. The Judiciary Committee determined Colfax could not be impeached because the crimes took place prior to his becoming Vice President.
To quote the 1873 Committee’s findings: “the remedial proceedings of impeachment should only be applied to high crimes and misdemeanors committed while in office…impeachment touches the office only, and qualifications for the office, and not the man himself.”
To sum up simply: It appears that Clinton cannot be impeached as President for crimes relating to her e-mails – unless those crimes extend into her office as President.
We now come full circle back to the original question. Can Clinton Pardon herself?
It seems likely that she can – although it would certainly be contested as no President has ever attempted to pardon themselves (it also violates the legal principle of acting as one’s own judge).
- Mrs. Clinton’s alleged offenses are federal in nature – they meet limitation 1.
- Mrs. Clinton would be, presumably, be pardoning herself from crimes committed prior to assuming the Office of President so she would appear to be protected from limitation 2.
I have long wondered at the possibility that a Hillary Presidency was always the end game. A perfect tying up of all the sprawling threads that make up the Clinton’s dealings over these many years.
It appears that it may be just that.
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