Donald Trump (AFP)
President Donald Trump has been telling White House aides in recent weeks he wants to grant himself a pardon on his last day in office, The New York Times reports Thursday. The paper's Michael Schmidt and Maggie Haberman says the President, now under siege for inciting what became a violent and deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, may have reason to be increasingly interested. "The discussions between Mr. Trump and his aides about a self-pardon came before his pressure over the weekend on Georgia officials to help him try to overturn the election results or his incitement of the riots at the Capitol. Trump allies believe that both episodes increased Mr. Trump’s criminal exposure." No president has ever tried to self-pardon. It would be "a move that would mark one of the most extraordinary and untested uses of presidential power in American history." Trump reportedly enjoyed the insurrection scenes. "As aides urged Mr. Trump to issue a strong condemnation on Wednesday and he rejected that advice, the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, warned Mr. Trump that he could face legal exposure for the riot given that he had urged his supporters to march to the Capitol and 'fight' beforehand," the Times notes. "The president had appeared to White House aides to be enjoying watching the scenes play out on television." Trump has previously claimed he has the "absolute right" to pardon himself, though most legal experts disagree.
Should he go through with issuing a self-pardon, it would likely force the hand of the Biden administration's Dept. of Justice to charge him with crimes, the only real way to test whether or not he constitutionally can self-pardon.
As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong? In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2018