(PoliticalLookout.com)- It’s been rumored for a while, but recent reports are that President Donald Trump has had talks with his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, about a “pre-emptive pardon” prior to the president leaving office.
Should the Electoral College certify that Democrat Joe Biden has won the election, Trump would be due to leave office on January 20, 2021. That’s a little less than two months away.
According to a New York Times report, Giuliani “discussed with the president as recently as last week” a pre-emptive pardon. At this point in time, the president’s lawyer’s “potential criminal exposure is unclear.” While Giuliani hasn’t faced any charges yet, he has been under investigation for business dealings in the Ukraine.
Giuliani has repeatedly denied the accusations, tweeting that he “never had the discussion they falsely attribute to an anonymous source.”
Robert Costello, who serves as Giuliani’s lawyer, said “he’s not concerned about this investigation, because he didn’t do anything wrong, and that’s been our position from Day 1.” Another spokesperson for Giuliani said, “Mayor Giuliani cannot comment on any discussions that he has with his client.”
According to the New York Times report, Trump is also considering pre-emptive pardons for his oldest three children — Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka — as well as Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, who is a senior adviser to the White House. Apparently, the president told confidants that he’s concerned a new Department of Justice in the Biden administration would seek retribution by targeting those close to the president.
While none of these people have been charged or officially accused of committing a crime, it’s apparent from these reports that the president is concerned they might be in the future. The presidential pardon gives Trump the power to pardon anyone he wants, with next to no limitations, even before a criminal case begins.
A ruling from the Supreme Court in 1866 lays it out clearly:
“It extends to every offence known to the law, and may be exercised at any time after its commission, either before legal proceedings are taken or during their pendency, of after conviction and judgment. The power is not subject to legislative control.”
This means that if Trump were to pre-emptively pardon Giuliani, his children, his son-in-law or any other person, there’s nothing that Biden — nor anyone else – -can do about it. The only thing a presidential pardon cannot be used for are in instances of impeachment.
Presidential pardons wouldn’t protect these people from any and all criminal cases, though. Pardons only cover federal offenses, not state or local ones. So, if the state of New York, for example, wants to charge any members of the Trump family with tax fraud — as the Manhattan district attorney is looking into now — the pardons won’t prevent them from doing so.
It’s also been rumored that the president will consider issuing a pardon for himself, though it’s unclear whether that would stand up in court, should a future administration try to fight it. If anything, a legal fight could be expected should the president decide to pardon himself.