President Donald Trump has been dropping hints for a long time that he will pardon ally Roger Stone, the man who lied to Congress and obstructed justice to conceal the truth about his efforts to acquire emails that Russian hackers stole from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
Corey Brettschneider, a professor of political science at Brown University and visiting professor of law at Fordham Law School, argues in an editorial for Politico that the Constitution might prohibit Trump from issuing this particular pardon, despite the fact that the president’s clemency powers are generally seen as very broad.
“Many scholars agree that once a president has been impeached, he or she loses the power to pardon anyone for criminal offenses connected to the articles of impeachment,” he writes. “Less noticed is that even after the Senate’s failure to convict the president, he or she does not regain this power.”
Specifically, the Constitution states that the president has “power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” The Constitution’s framers added this caveat, writes Brettschneider, because they did not want a president to have the power to pardon people who helped him commit or get away with high crimes and misdemeanors.
“The clause prevents the worst abuse of the pardon power: a president’s protecting cronies who have been convicted of crimes related to the president’s own wrongdoing,” he argues.