CHICAGO - ‘Tis the time of year for presidential pardons, and there is talk of who could be on President Donald Trump's list.
The New York Times reports President Trump has discussed issuing pre-emptive pardons for his three eldest children, plus son-in-law Jared Kushner and lawyer Rudy Giuliani, even though they are not charged with crimes.
Legal analyst Karen Conti says it is all legal and part of the presidential pardon powers.
“Some of them are just their buddies and in this case families. There is a broad pardon language in the Constitution that says a president has the power to pardon any crime in the U.S., except impeachment,” Conti said.
Conti says there is precedent for a pre-emptive pardon. Remember, President Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon, who had not been charged with a crime.
“He can pre-emptively pardon someone and all that means is if there's a crime committed up until the day of the pardon, a crime against the United States, a federal crime, those would all be erased,” Conti said.
But could President Trump pardon himself?
“I don't think he can pardon himself and here’s why. A pardon by nature is someone pardoning another, so they wouldn’t exclude it in the Constitution. It would be like saying the president can donate a kidney/ Well clearly the president would never donate a kidney to himself. It's just nonsensical. So if you're looking at the plain language of the Constitution, I don't think he's got the ability to do that,” Conti said.
The president can only pardon federal crimes, not state or local. That pardon power rests with governors.