Would a Presidential Pardon for Roger Stone Be Unconstitutional?

The argument requires several controversial assumptions and leaps of logic.


President Donald Trump has suggested he might pardon Roger Stone, a longtime crony who last week was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison for obstructing a congressional investigation, lying to a congressional committee, and tampering with a witness.

Not so fast, says Corey Brettschneider, a professor of political science at Brown University. Brettschneider argues that Trump does not have the power to save Stone from prison.

It's a bold claim, given the president's sweeping clemency powers under the Constitution. But Brettschneider notes that the "power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States" does not apply "in cases of impeachment." That exception, he argues in a Politico essay published today, rules out a pardon for Stone. It is hard to see how.

Brettschneider suggests that "cases of impeachment" include criminal cases against people who conspired with the president in the commission of "high crimes and misdemeanors" for which the president was impeached. Many legal scholars disagree.

During the Watergate investigation, New York Times reporter John Crewdson looked into the question of whether Richard Nixon could pardon himself to avoid criminal prosecution after he resigned or was removed from office. Based on his interviews with "constitutional experts," Crewdson flatly stated: "The exception [for 'cases of impeachment'] means that [the president] cannot restore the standing of a Federal officer who has been impeached and removed from his position; it does not mean that a President cannot pardon himself before his own impeachment."

After Bill Clinton was impeached, Slate considered the same issue and summarized the opinions of several experts. "The simplest interpretation," it said, "is that the president can pardon any federal criminal offense, including his own, but cannot pardon an impeachment. In other words, Clinton is free to immunize himself from criminal prosecution, but has no power over Congress."

If a president who has been impeached can avoid federal prosecution by pre-emptively pardoning himself, it seems clear that he also can pardon someone who was convicted of crimes related to that impeachment. But even assuming Brettschneider is right about that issue, there is another obvious problem with his argument: Stone's crimes had nothing to do with the abuse of power described in the articles of impeachment against Trump, which alleged that he sought to discredit a political rival by pressuring the Ukrainian government to announce an investigation of him.

Stone, by contrast, was convicted of lying to a congressional committee about his attempts to help elect Trump by contacting WikiLeaks, which had obtained emails that Russian hackers stole from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman. He was convicted of witness tampering because he persistently pressured one of his WikiLeaks intermediaries to refrain from contradicting those lies.

"It is true that the Stone investigation concerned Russian involvement in the election and that the House charges focused on the more recent Ukraine accusation," Brettschneider writes. "But the articles of impeachment focused on the accusation of 'abuse of power,' and it is that general high crime at play in Ukraine and elsewhere that links the impeachment and Stone."

That is quite a stretch. By Brettschneider's logic, any criminal case that arguably relates to a presidential abuse of power would count as a "case of impeachment," regardless of whether the president actually was impeached for that abuse of power.

Nor is it clear how Stone's crimes are even arguably related to crimes by Trump. There was nothing illegal about the actions Stone tried to conceal. Trying to assist the Trump campaign by seeking information about the purloined emails was not a crime, although it was potentially embarrassing for a president who has steadfastly denied that Russia helped him win the election. And Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no persuasive evidence that the Trump campaign illegally conspired with Russia in any way.

Trump has claimed many powers he does not actually have, including the power to "open up our libel laws," the power to punish TV stations that irk him by revoking their broadcast licenses, the power to unilaterally ban firearm accessories, and the power to build a border wall that Congress never approved. But the list of Trump's imaginary powers does not include the power to pardon Roger Stone.

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  1. dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb. Drumpf. what a wet fart of a take.

  2. If you limit the pardon power, you are saying it is open season to charge the President’s friends and associates and criminalize politics without any remedy. It would criminalize politics. The way to go after a President would be to get partisan prosecutors to bring spurious charges against everyone around him. Without the power to pardon, there would be nothing the President could do about it.

    If you don’t like how a President uses his pardon power, vote him out of office.

    1. I almost always think restraining executive authority or limiting executive authority by redefining things is a good idea (I mean, what libertarian doesn’t?).

      But this is certainly a strained interpretation of this constitutional provision.

      1. you are restraining the exectutive’s power to restrain the judiciary. That is very unlibertarian. The President’s pardon power is the last check on judicial tyranny. If there is a problem it is that Presidents don’t use that power enough. The last thing anyone who cares about liberty should want is opening the door to limiting that power.

        Indeed, states have done just that. A lot of governors have no pardon or commutation power. It is in the hands of faceless committees of bureaucrats who are totally unaccountable to the public and exist largely to affirm the power of the judiciary.

        1. The implication is that impeachment without removal restricts a president’s Constitutional authority. In other words, it is a punishment in itself. It is like being put on house arrest because a criminal jury trial acquittal does not erase the grand jury indictment.

      2. Why just executive authority? Why not judicial and legislative as well?

      3. In any case, its hard to see how allowing an executive to prevent someone from being (even potentially) abused by an authoritarian legal system is un-libertarian.

        Blackstone’s Formulation.

    2. I’d say we already have open season on the current president’s associates. These are the same assholes after all who said that the president’s DEFENSE LAWYERS should be brought up on charges for doing their jobs. Of course, one it comes time for the shoe to fit the other foot, they’re gonna scream bloody murder.

  3. I’m waiting for the judge to be sanctioned in the Roger Stone trial.

    1. You and me both. We will be waiting for a long time. The conviction is certain to be overturned on appeal. The judge has acted like a complete jackass and should be removed from the bench. That won’t happen of course because the rules are for little people.

      Stone is a rich guy with a lot of friends and was close to the President himself. DOJ was able to obtain a bogus conviction on a trumped up process charge that while unlikely to send him to prison has ate up years of his live and will leave him bankrupt. If they can do that to him, imagine what they could do to you if they wanted to.

      Yet, Reason has cheer leaded DOJ throughout this entire thing. Very principled of them.

      1. She still refuses to remove the gag rule on Stone she implemented. That alone should be impeachable for her

      2. More importantly, the controversy will lead to increased book sales.

    2. The way the shit is hitting the fan in that courthouse he might not need a pardon. They might chuck it on appeal.

      1. They will. The judge refused to strike a juror who was a Democratic activists and had a trail of statements of how much she hated Trump and everyone around him a mile long. That is a reversible error right there.

        I think the judge knows it is going to be reversed. That is why she gave such a stupid sentence and is acting like such a jackass. She knows the case is going to be reversed and there will be no long term effects of it. So she is just playing to the camera and making herself a hero to the resistance knowing that the case is already blown and nothing she does is going to make any more blown.

        If this case had any chance of standing on appeal, that judge would be jumping through her ass to try and look fair and avoid creating any possibility of it being reversed.

        1. That is a reversible error right there.

          Do you think that’s true, legally speaking? My understanding of the appeals process tells me that this is not reversible error.

          1. I think it is. You have a right to an unbiased jury. If you ask for a juror to be struck and make a case that they are biased, and the judge refuses, then you didn’t get a fair jury and verdict should be reversed.

            Now the judge is going to get deference on that. It isn’t enough for the appellate court to just disagree with her. They would have to conclude that her decision was unreasonable. From everything I have read about this, her decision looks very unreasonable. You have a case involving a defendant who is charged with lying to protect the President and a juror who has exhibited a long standing bias towards that President.

            We will find out. Her behavior tells me that she thinks it is going to be reversed. Her statements and conduct are getting close to disqualifying her from the case. I can’t believer she would be doing that if she didn’t think the case was going to be overturned anyway. If she thought it wasn’t, she would have every reason to be as neutral acting as possible to ensure she didn’t create a reason to reverse.

            1. Now explain how you would analyze a case where one of the jurors was found to have a strong pro-Trump bias.

              I imagine you also think that only SCOTUS justices that love Trump should be allowed to be justices too, right?

              You sometimes speak/write in a way that seems to indicate you may be a lawyer….if that’s true, you should know better than anyone that if you want to yell at anyone in this case, yell at the absolute failure of a defense attorney that whiffed on this. If said juror had such an open and complete bias, and still ended up on the jury, with all the easy resources and techniques available to figure that out (especially at the type of biglaw firm that Stone can afford) then that’s the defense attorney’s fault. And if you can’t find enough people in an area that worship Trump, maybe he’s not worth worshiping….

              I mean, is there where we are now? If you don’t worship Trump you can’t be in a jury? Your own posts, by your logic, should render you ineligible to sit in judgement of any Democrat ever, seeing as how you routinely post that anyone that doesn’t love Trump is an enemy of the state.

              1. and one more thing, John, if indeed you are a lawyer, you should also know, better than anyone, what to expect if your client posts a pic of his presiding judge in crosshairs. Whether it’s ileegal or not, it is literally one of the worst possible things your client can do. You cannot possibly sit there and think “no, that’s cool, and nothing will/should come of it.” If you do think that,
                I don’t ever want to hear you again saying that you’re any kind of pragmatist.

                1. Stone didn’t post a picture of the judge in the crosshairs. That is just a straight up lie. Even if he did, judges are expected to make rulings based on the law not their personal feelings about the defendant. And Stone has a 1st Amendment right to criticize that or any other judge.

                  What you are telling me is that the judge having the maturity and judicial temperament of angry 12 year old somehow makes Stone being illegally convicted okay. Ah, no.


                    Yeah I know Buzzfeed. But Stone did post it, there is no doubt of that. You can find the same story posted on many many places, not to mention the numerous screencaps of it on Stone’s feed before he deleted it and then his attempts to explain it/handwave it away. And his absolutely pathetic defense of “it was just a random pic from the Internet…” yeah ok Roger. It “just happened” to have the judge in your case, and crosshairs. OK, sure.

                    So for the record, as a defense attorney you wouldn’t find that to be a very bad idea for your client to do? Just want to be sure that’s your position. Ask the ABA what they would think of that as compared to the standards for competent representation. For all I know, maybe in court you talk like you do on here, “Judge, I am smarter than everyone else and if you don’t see that it’s just because you are an emo retard.”

                    1. Sure but again, that doesn’t make it okay for the judge to screw him. And that is not with the judge in the crosshairs. You are lying about the image.

                    2. I was in the printing business for 20 years and the “crosshairs” are a register mark that anyone involved in graphic arts would recognize. I spent a lot of time gazing at them through a scope. Believe me. I know what they look like. I have no idea what the document is but the claim that it is a threat of violence is just silly.

              2. Now explain how you would analyze a case where one of the jurors was found to have a strong pro-Trump bias.

                The government can’t appeal an acquittal. So, that would be the way it goes. In that case, the government would be the one moving to strike the juror and the judge would be wrong to deny the motion. If, however, the judge didn’t, then the government is out of luck. The defendant gets the benefit of the government not being able to appeal an acquittal.

                1. You are correct from a purely procedural POV, generally speaking the government can’t appeal an acquittal…but you ignore/sidestep an important part of your own take on the overall situation. Your position, unless I am completely misreading it, is not one of procedure (and I already outlined above whose fault that would be in practical terms…hint…Stone’s lawyers) but that the entire case (and by extension, any case aimed at DJT or anyone he is friends with) should essentially be dismissed out of hand or invalidated if any juror can be said to have criticized him on social media. Which basically means in today’s day and age that about 80% of people should be barred from juries because we could always go find out if the defendant likes/dislikes R or D politicians, then surmise that no one that tends to favor the opposite side can sit on a jury. But I suppose that goes hand in hand with the new hotness, aka the idea that the entire government including the judiciary is “invalid” unless they swear personal fealty to DJT.

                  1. It’s somewhat connected to the same logic whereby hardcore Trump lovers see Trump attack someone on Twitter voluntarily, then decide that a media outlet literally quoting his voluntary posts/unprompted rally statements is an “attack” that he then should respond to.

                    1. It is not connected to that at all. In fact, it is unclear what you are even talking about here.

                  2. Someone who is a Democratic activist and has a long history of hating the President cannot be a fair juror in a trial involving a man accused of lying to protect Donald Trump. If he such a person ends up on a jury over the objection of the defense, then any resulting conviction should be overturned.

                    Saying you cannot be a political activist for the other party to be a fair juror is not saying everyone should swear loylaty to Trump. It means jurorors in political cases should not be political activists with long and strongly held opinions about the people involved in the case.

                    I don’t understand why you can’t understand that and continue to misstate my position. But you do and you should stop it.

                    1. You still fail to address whether a juror with a long history of supporting President Trump is a “fair juror” in the same case. And conveniently don’t address the fact that Stone’s defense team had every opportunity to strike said juror and failed. So it’s you that is missing the point and being thoroughly pedantic. Kind of like how you fail to see that a picture of Stone’s judge that also has crosshairs in it is “no big deal.” Do you deny that the picture depicts Stone’s judge and also includes crosshairs? How am I “lying?”

                    2. I addressed that question above. No he likely could not. I fail to understand why you think that matters and refuse to understand that I have answered the question.

              3. A juror with a bias toward the defendant is typically a good thing. Unless the juror lied about it.

        2. It’s also why the judge has attacked media outlets that published her name… after she proudly outed herself on national TV to friendly news outlets.

  4. OK, no. Trump could very much pardon Stone. That is perfectly within his power. It could also very well be seen as an abuse of power that leads to a second impeachment.

    PS – Although I see no explicit prohibition in the Constitution, I believe that it is an open question as to whether the President (or a State Governor) could pardon himself. If it could be done, I think Nixon probably would have pardoned himself rather of relying on Ford to do it for him.

    1. If you have the legal authority to do something, then by definition it can’t be an “abuse”. Abusing a power means doing something beyond what it is allowed to be used for.

      If you can’t name a law or a rule that the action violates, then it is not an “abuse of power”. Stop using that stupid meaningless term.

      1. You seriously are just braindead no?

        The president has the power under the War Powers act to launch attacks no? So it wouldn’t be an abuse of power if he decided to nuke the Middle East into oblivion?

        Because that’s seriously the stupidity you’re arguing right now.

        1. The president has the power under the War Powers act to launch attacks no? So it wouldn’t be an abuse of power if he decided to nuke the Middle East into oblivion?

          Why would that be wrong? Because the President doesn’t have the power to unilaterally attack nations with nukes without the approval of Congress. There is a rule that he is breaking by doing it.

          You just proved my point you fucking moron. Get it to your thick fucking skull “I don’t like this” doesn’t’ make something an abuse. Words have meaning. Try learning them.

          1. Because the President doesn’t have the power to unilaterally attack nations


            1. It is called the war powers. And no, you have no response and are too much of an ignorant asshole to just admit you are wrong and move on. This is why you never learn anything and continue to be stupid. Try harder and things will get better.

            2. You left off the rest of that sentence fuckwad.

        2. wearingit
          February.27.2020 at 2:54 pm
          “You seriously are just braindead no?…”

          Projection is so obvious, along with your TDS.

      2. “If you have the legal authority to do something, then by definition it can’t be an ‘abuse'”

        So a president starting a war to wag the dog and make his re election campaign go smoother isn’t an abuse? You must have had 0 problem with Clinton’s half-assed military deployments during the Lewinsky debacle.

        Or how about a president using his position to get sex from his interns? Nothing illegal about that. Is that an abuse of power?

        Or how about giving your unqualified children white house jobs? To the point where one of them can’t even pass a TS security clearance without the president’s intervention (complete waiver)? That’s not an abuse of power? Or when those same children do private business (on daddy’s behalf) and require secret service protection? That’s not an abuse of power?

        There are many, many examples of actions that could be strictly legal, but also clearly abusive.

        If Obama’s kids were given security clearances they didn’t deserve and were flying around the world conducting foreign business on Obama’s behalf, you’d blow a fucking gasket. The only reason you don’t care now is that it’s your guy.

        1. So a president starting a war to wag the dog and make his re election campaign go smoother isn’t an abuse? You must have had 0 problem with Clinton’s half-assed military deployments during the Lewinsky debacle.

          The President has the power to do both. He was impeached for the crime of perjury not for banging an intern.

          The President also has the power to hire people even his kids to work at the White House. If Obama had adult kids and hired them, I wouldn’t have said shit. You just assume I would because you are an unprincipled ignorant jackass who can’t fathom that anyone else could be any different.

          Abuse of power is a meaningless term. You use it because you don’t know or care words mean and have no idea how to reason. All you know is what you want and how to demand it. Rational people think about things in more complex and subtle ways that you will never understand.

          1. John, I was here during Obama. You can’t bullshit me.

            1. Which sockpuppets were you using then?

              1. I’ve only ever used this handle. You can find comments by me going back to 2013. I lurked far longer than that.

          2. “You just assume I would because you are an unprincipled ignorant jackass who can’t fathom that anyone else could be any different.”

            The other day he couldn’t believe anyone else could care about women being raped if it didn’t benefit their side in the culture wars, because he doesn’t care about women being raped if it doesn’t benefit his side in the culture war.

            That’s what kind of sick fucking individual we’re dealing with.

            1. I’m waiting for one of you neckbeards to post something about rape that is actually sympathetic to the victim and not “omg fucking tranny trash!” Still haven’t seen that from any of you. Almost like you are a bunch of misanthropes.

              1. “omg fucking tranny trash!”

                Who posted that? I missed it.

              2. Either way, claiming that I have to post about rape in the Reason comments section to prove I care about rape is preposterous to anyone who’s note a disingenuous piece of shit.

              3. So nobody did, and you’ve lied again.

                Shocked face.

          3. “The President has the power to do both. He was impeached for the crime of perjury not for banging an intern.”

            This reveals your utter hypocrisy. You claim breathlessly that what happened to Stone was that he was essentially put into a perjury trap, and that what he actually did was no crime. You bemoan “process crimes” and decry them as a trap for your political allies.

            But you don’t see how your own example is the EXACT. SAME. THING. Yes, Clinton was technically impeached for perjury, not for banging an intern. But tell me, John, what started the inquiry in the first place in order for Clinton to even face impeachment? The banging of the intern being used as a political football to start said impeachment inquiry. And the “banging the intern” part is what you and others have used time and time again over the years to assert moral superiority over “liberals.” Which is even more ironic now…all of a sudden Roger Stone gets popped and you are out here screaming about the unfairness of process crimes. Not to mention that you gave all the shits about Clinton’s “Abuse of power” over his young intern and zero shits about, say, the President making sure many Secret Service details stay at his resorts (at great taxpayer cost and great enrichment to Trump) and fuel up at his place too. Lol.

            Maybe the people around you fall for your “I am so smart and principled” b.s. but in a forum where there are other smart people, you’re just another blowhard.

            1. What started Clinton’s impeachment is that he lied under oath while being deposed in the Paula Jones lawsuit.

              This is pretty much the opposite of “EXACT. SAME. THING.”

      3. In my hometown, there was a very old municipal ordinance literally from the 1700s that prohibited dancing in bars/clubs whatever on Sundays. It was one of what people generally refer to as “blue laws” (you find these in the older states) that basically just stopped being enforced for a lot of reasons. I agree with anyone who says that the right solution for everyone would be to take the time to actually strike said laws/ordinances/rules) but anyway in current practice most LEOs and local governments just ignore or do not enforce such silly old rules because they clearly do not comport with modern life in any way. Anyway the point is that one night after getting thrown out of a local bar for being wasted and abusive, a local selectman got his revenge by using his pull to get that ordinance enforced against the bar owner. Is that not what we could reasonably be called an abuse of power? Despite its technical legality?

        1. Why is that an abuse of power? What makes it an abuse and another exercise of the power not? What rule does it violate? It is clearly legal or you would call it a crime. So what are these unwritten rules that make this an abuse and other legal uses of the power not? Who makes these rules? And how are they not just you saying the person did something legal that you don’t like?

          Show your work.

          1. So is your position that literally the only way for someone in a position of power to abuse said power is for them to commit a clearly defined statutory crime? Nothing else they do is arguably an abuse, no matter how petty, vindictive, and demonstrably NOT even-handed? Ok, well then going the other way, using your logic, every single time a police officer pulls over car X instead of car Y when both are speeding on a crowded freeway, said officer has by omission abused their power by “allowing illegal behavior” of the other 1000 cars speeding (going 66 in a 65) at the same time.

            1. So it must be even handed? Who made that rule? You are just making things up

              1. OK, put it to the gallery. Show of hands. Who (John included), if in the position of either the bar owner, or an attorney representing said bar owner in the matter described above, would just lie down and accept that as a “fair application of the law” (again, a municipal ordinance that literally no one enforced for at least 100 years prior and that 99% of people never even heard of until Mr. Selectman decided to bring it out in a move that was blatantly obvious revenge for getting thrown out of the bar for being a drunk and disorderly asshole)? Who among you would go to bed that night saying, “yeah, the selectman, who by the way never faced any legal trouble for his behavior in the bar that night, was totally legit in bringing this forward and getting his friend the police chief to ok it, no abuse of power here, just good old-fashioned law and order?”

                John, as the bar owner, and a supposedly libertarian-minded person, and also as his potential attorney…would you have accepted that position? Without complaint? As simply just another example of proper “law and order?”

                BTW I hope someday you are called for jury duty in case where the defendant is Republican so that we can see how committed you really are to this idea that only a person (which we all know doesn’t exist) that is 100% purely apolitical in every sense can be a juror.

                1. You’re super good at picking one line out of a whole argument and half-answering it, dodging the rest, and then claiming victory (and intellectual superiority to boot. You may represent the finest example I’ve ever seen of the “appeal to authority” and you also happen to be the authority. “Trust me because I say I’m smart and everyone else is an emo retard.”

                  1. Make better arguments, more succinctly. Your faults are not his.

                    1. Did I just notice a flutter in the drapes of johari’s Window?

    2. agreed, I’m not sure that allowing someone to pardon oneself is a good idea for our sort of legal system.

  5. It doesn’t matter whether or not a Presidential pardon for Stone is Constitutional, it’s whether or not you can make an argument that it is/is not depending on your intended audience. If you can argue with a straight face that it depends on what the definition of “is” is, you can make an argument for any proposition you please. Hell, Hillary Clinton’s still making the argument that she’s President, that right there invalidates Trump’s pardons since he’s not actually the President. See how easy that was?

    1. The whole thing is idiotic anyway. Suppose they are right. What is the remedy? Are they going to bring suit to demand that Stone be thrown back in jail? What a reverse habius petition?

      Do they think they will some day take back the White House and send federal marshals to arrest Stone because his pardon was “unconstitutional”? They really think the judiciary is going to get in the business of throwing pardoned people back into jail for political reasons? Fat chance.

      The whole thing is an idiotic waste of time and the people pushing it would be better off jerking off and having healthy fantasies rather than ones about throwing people in jail.

      1. The whole thing is an idiotic waste of time

        Says the dude that posts literally hundreds of comments a week on a website he trolls, hates and is generally obsessed with.

        1. Hihn is commenting on the other thread.

          And I love this website. It is ignoramuses like you and Jeff I hate. And in fairness I should just feel sorry for you. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be you.

    2. Why are we even arguing if it’s legal for Trump to pardon Stone? It’s motherfucking corrupt as hell if he does. We shouldn’t need a specific law for every single corrupt or detrimental action a president can take. But apparently we do, because trumpkins new and only standards for presidents are:
      1. don’t be black and
      2. but did he convicted for it?

      1. We shouldn’t need a specific law for every single corrupt or detrimental action a president can take.

        We don’t need no fucking laws. Thanks for letting the mask slip. Everyone knows that a ignorant tyrannical jackass you are. But it is nice when you put in clear terms everyone can understand sometimes.

        Thank God, you will never be in any position of authority. Thank God.

        1. You mistkae me for a democrat when I’ve been a lifelong R member, even holding an elected position in the R party for 8 years. I’m a never Trumper, if you need a label. (Which you seem to.)

          1. No one believes a single word of that Jeff.

            1. It’s a comical claim to even make.

          2. And if any of you believe this asshole, then I’ve got a bridge in brooklyn to sell ya.

            1. Why would I lie? And I don;t give a shit what you think. Your opinions are based off of whether or not someone uncritically loves trump.

              1. “Why would I lie?”

                Because you’re a liar. It’s what you do.

      2. It wouldnt be corrupt. What an ignorant bald assertion.

        1. I know it wouldn’t be, by your standard, because he is neither being black nor getting convicted of it. Want to get someone to read my last comment out loud for you?

          1. De Oppresso Liber
            February.27.2020 at 3:39 pm
            “…Want to get someone to read my last comment out loud for you?..”

            Want to post something that isn’t abysmally stupid?

      3. De Oppresso Liber
        February.27.2020 at 3:06 pm
        “…It’s motherfucking corrupt as hell if he does…”

        You should learn the difference between brain-dead assertions and an argument.

        1. I know the difference. I’m still waiting for an argument from any of you cultists.

          1. You made the assertion, explain why it’s corrupt.

            1. Stone was convicted of perjury and jury tampering while covering for actions that he and others in the Trump campaign took. Stone’s crimes were to benefit the president personally. If the president uses his powers of office as a favor to pay back people who help him personally, then that is corruption. Every use of presidential power should be in service of America, not in service of Trump the person.

              1. So what criminal acts did Pres. Trump commit that Roger Stone covered up?

                In the same line of thinking, then, you don’t believe Eric Holder should have been protected by Obama’s Executive privilege since it benefited both of them but did a disservice to America?

                Allowing an abuse of the criminal justice system is clearly not in service of America either…

  6. It’s not unconstitutional, it’s not an abuse of power.

    I think it would be a bad idea. I don’t think Stone deserves 9 years in jail, don’t think he even deserves 2-4 years in prison, but his own stupidity is what put him in this situation. He absolutely and obviously perjured himself.

    What should be done is raising the question to Congress if perjury is really a serious criminal offense if the underlying activity is not criminal.

  7. It seems fairly obvious that the pardon power is restricted so that a president cannot pardon an official out of an impeachment. To say that it restricts a president from pardoning someone who is tangentially criminally charged is a notion that makes no sense. Especially if the President was acquitted, since that effectively nullifies the impeachment. Impeachment is not a punishment that lessens a President constitutional powers.

  8. No.
    Next stupid question.

  9. Corey Brettschneider, a professor of political science at Brown University.
    First of all, the question has nothing to do with poly sci. It is a Constitutional question, not a political one.
    Second of all, this is truly one of the stupidest arguments I have heard in a long time. As Sullum acknowledges, even Democrats admitted that Nixon could have legally pardoned himself from criminal punishment (NOT from impeachment if he hadn’t resigned first). Whether or not that is politically good is another issue.

  10. I think Trump is on firm ground to pardon Roger, especially since he he won the impeachment trial. He should probably wait, politically speaking, till after the election. I was young when Clinton pardoned Marc Rich but I don’t think it was illegal while still not the best thing for perhaps Al Gore and certainly didn’t pass the political smell test; still it was legal.

    1. I was young when Clinton pardoned Marc Rich but I don’t think it was illegal while still not the best thing for perhaps Al Gore and certainly didn’t pass the political smell test; still it was legal.

      And Clinton himself later said he regretted it. Not, of course, because Rich is a shitty person, but because of the political hit he took by doing so, which in his phrasing “wasn’t worth it.”

      1. The pardon was valid and Rich free as a bird. Clinton, however, was guilty of bribery. There is no question he gave Rich the pardon in return for cash. Clinton should have been indicted. Indeed, so should have Rich. The pardon on Rich’s previous conviction was valid.

        1. I’m agreeing that it was legal, and that Clinton’s way of speaking of it pretty nakedly indicated a quid pro quo (i.e. he openly opined that he lost more than he gained from the deal when he clearly expected the opposite). The only thing, in Clinton’s mind, that made it a bad move was the political hit he took thinking no one would be paying attention to his last-minute pardons (and he was wrong).

  11. I think Trump can pardon Stone, but Stone will still be in prison as stays are ordered and his release works it’s way to the Supreme court. Which will take more time, judicial wrangling or his sentence?

    1. If Trump issued a pardon and the Justice Department refused to release Stone, that would be a full on constitutional crisis. It would be a complete disaster for self government because it would mean DOJ is now accountable to no one but themselves. I do not think any AG would do that. I certainly don’t think Barr would do that. If Trump pardons him, he is going home.

      But, I doubt he is going to jail. He should get an appeal bond.

      1. If such a thong were to happen, Trump woupd be perfectly justified in sending in Navy SEALs to rescue the illegally- held prisoner.

  12. attempts to help elect Trump by contacting WikiLeaks, which had obtained emails that Russian hackers stole from the Democratic National Committee”

    Wiki leaks says it didn’t come from the Russians and no one has proved it came from the Russians and just saying so doesn’t make it so

    1. I’m some people’s minds it is so, and always will be, no matter what.

      We have a diagnosis for those people, and it’s called TDS.

  13. Short answer: No.

    Long answer: Nooooooooooooooooooooo.

    1. That should be the article. How is this even being questioned?

    2. Yesss you beat me to it.

  14. The President has the power to pardon anyone except himself.

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  16. Corey Brettschneider seems to be implying that the President can not pardon a criminal offense if it relates to impeachment.

    This is, of course, not true. The President may pardon anyone of any federal criminal offense, conviction, or allegation. The “except in cases of impeachment” means that a pardon can not obviate an impeachment by the House, nor removal by the Senate. See Amar, Akhil (2005). America’s Constitution: A Biography. New York: Random House. p. 187. ISBN 978-0812972726.

    A pardon of Roger Stone would be as constitutionally valid as the pardon of Susan McDougal. The House could impeach Roger Stone (osrtensibly for the purpose of banning him from any form of federal employment), or Susan McDougal for that matter- pardons do not obviate this power.

    But Susan McDougal became immune from criminal prosecution and punishment for the specific offenses for which she was pardoned.

    The same will apply to Roger Stone is pardoned.

  17. Damn that take is so bad I’m surprised the dude isn’t writing for Reason.

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