Guest hosting “The Rachel Maddow Show” on Friday, MSNBC’s Joy Reid set out to answer the question of whether a sitting president of the United States can be indicted.
Reid began by playing archival NBC News footage of the Saturday Night Massacre during the Watergate investigation that ultimately drove President Richard Nixon from office.
For analysis, Reid brought on former Watergate prosecutor Nick Ackerman, who noted he had a lot more hair in the footage Reid had just played.
“The bottom line legal issue is the president is not above the law, he is not King George,” Ackerman explained. “In 1776, we made a determination that we were going to be run by a constitution and by laws. We did something pretty radical at that point, we got rid of the king.”
“Could Donald Trump evade all of this by pardoning himself?” Reid asked.
“I don’t think that would work. In fact, I don’t think the pardon power extends to the point where if you have a conflict-of-interest, whether you pardon your relatives, your son-in-law, your daughter, whoever it is, yourself,” Ackerman explained.
“Are you saying that Donald Trump could be prevented by a court from pardoning Jared Kushner or his son?”
“Sure,” Ackerman replied.
“Under Article III, Section 3, of the United States Constitution, the president has to abide by and execute faithfully the laws of the United States,” Ackerman noted. “That doesn’t mean he can go out there and use them for his own purposes to evade the law and to put himself above the law and i think there would be a strong argument that any such pardon would not be enforceable.”