Donald Trump’s ascendancy into the Oval Office has provided us, as a nation, with a four-year long education in just which constitutional limits restrict the president’s actions — and which limits are more like rough guidelines that the president is not actually required to follow as long as he has a sufficiently compliant Congress that will let him get away with it.
As John and Brett discuss in this clip from The Damage Report, Trump may soon be imposing another object lesson in pushing constitutional limits on us if and when he seeks to pardon himself for federal crimes, past, present and maybe even future. John notes that Trump has long been obsessed with the pardon power, and has openly discussed - well, tweeted about - the prospect of pardoning himself, even though many legal scholars feel he would be on shaky legal ground if he tried it.
John adds that the question came up in 1974 when the Justice Department concluded that then-president Richard Nixon could not pardon himself based on the principle that no one may be a judge in one’s own case, but that’s not the same as a court ruling. And with a criminally-inclined president uniquely unfazed by precedent or existing norms and a wild card Supreme Court replete with his appointees… let’s just say we may soon see yet more boundaries falling, ironically enough from a president who ran on a campaign promise of building a wall.