Good Question: Can Trump pardon himself if he’s re-elected as president?

Good Question: Can Trump pardon himself if he is re-elected?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Can former president Donald Trump pardon himself if he’s re-elected?

It’s a truly unprecedented scenario. At no other time in American history has a president or presidential candidate faced dozens of criminal charges. A viewer asked: “What if Trump becomes our next president and wishes to pardon himself of past crimes? Can he do that?”

Tim Kneeland, professor of history, politics, and law at Nazareth University, said a lot of scholars come to the conclusion that it probably never occurred to the framers of the Constitution that a president would even consider pardoning him or herself. But language and institutions evolve.

News10NBC’s Emily Putnam: “Can a president pardon himself of a crime?”

Tim Kneeland: “That’s a great question. And it’s a great question because nobody has a solid answer for this.”

Constitutional scholars have debated this question since the last Trump administration. Specifically, would it be it constitutional?

“If you read the federalist papers written by people like James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, if you read Madison’s essay in federalist number 10, it says ‘no man can be a judge of himself’, indicating that the framers and the architects of the Constitution believe that the president could not,” Kneeland said.

Trump is no stranger to pardons. He pardoned Steve Bannon, Paul Manafort, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s father among others during his first term in the White House.

“He has often shown an ability or a willingness to violate the customs and norms of pardons in terms of using it for political purposes,” Kneeland said.

If Trump wins the election and tries to pardon himself, the U.S. Supreme Court would likely need to get involved. But as Trump told NBC’s Kristen Welker in September of last year that he’s not planning on it.

“So let’s hope that Trump follows his own logic of September and says ‘it’s very unlikely that I would even try this’ because that would avoid a constitutional crisis which this would no doubt lead to,” Kneeland said.

A president cannot pardon him or herself of a state crime. Only federal crimes. Trump currently has nearly 90 charges against him from four indictments. Two of those indictments are federal and two are state.

One of the state indictments is the election interference case in Georgia. If Trump wins the presidency, he would not be able to pardon himself from those charges.

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