Can He Do That?

The problems with pardon power

February 20, 2020, 11:40 pm • 29m

Only a few presidential powers are very clearly outlined in the U.S. Constitution. One of those is the president’s power to pardon.We’ve seen President Trump exercise his pardon power at several moments during his tenure in office - sometimes to much controversy.Tuesday, the president continued this trend. He pardoned or commuted the sentences of several convicted white-collar criminals at the center of federal anti-corruption and tax fraud cases.Trump’s choice to grant clemency to this group, combined with a reported desire from the administration to issue more pardons in the coming months, raises questions about who else Trump might pardon. Among them, is his longtime adviser and friend Roger Stone who was sentenced Thursday to serve three years four months for impeding a congressional investigation of 2016 Russian election interference.Trump left this door open when he said at an event in Las Vegas Thursday that while he wasn’t going to grant clemency to Stone right now, Stone “has a very good chance of exoneration.”What do a president’s decisions about who to pardon say about his agenda? How unusual is it really for a president to pardon those close to him? And how much power does the Justice Department have to push back on a president who seeks to pardon for political gain?On this episode, White House reporter Toluse Olorunnipa helps us boil our questions down to this: If a president has sweeping pardon powers — are there really consequences to using them? And … should there be?Related episodesTrump’s view of a unilaterally powerful president goes unchallenged'The Framers would not recognize the modern presidency.'

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