Who can the president pardon? Can he pardon himself? Judge Andrew Napolitano explains what the president’s pardon power is and offers some surprising facts and examples.
Judge Andrew Napolitano is a professor of law at Brooklyn Law School, an author and the senior judicial analyst at Fox News. He lectures internationally on topics relating to the U.S. Constitution, the rule of law, civil liberties in wartime, and human freedom.
Andrew Napolitano: Can the president pardon himself, or herself? Hi, Judge Andrew Napolitano here to discuss pardons.
How extensive are presidential pardons? The president’s pardoning power is full, final and absolute, meaning it cannot be appealed, it cannot be legislated away, it cannot be challenged, and it cannot be checked. So the answer to our question, can the President pardon himself, or as one might have asked in the Fall of 2016 before November 8th, could the President pardon herself, the answer is, yes. In fact, Richard Nixon himself explored the possibility of pardoning himself, but the historian in him said, "I don’t want to be the first to do this. I’d rather have my Vice President agree to pardon me before I agree to resign." Hence one of the more infamous pardons in the modern era. A president could pardon his predecessor. A president could pardon his successor. A president could pardon a former colleague of his who ran for president and lost. Presidents pardon people for all kinds of crimes, limited to federal crimes, charged and uncharged. So the President Gerald Ford pardon of President Richard Nixon was for all crimes he committed or may have committed, charged or uncharged. Most pardons are directed to a specific crime. The Ford pardon of Nixon was not directed to a specific crime because he hadn’t been charged with a crime, and the pardon wipes out the conviction. So if one is convicted of bank robbery in a federal court and serves 20 years in a federal prison, and then one is pardoned, one may answer truthfully under oath that one never committed a federal crime. So the pardon actually has the effect of re-writing history. Judge Andrew Napolitano. Thank you for watching TalksOnLaw.