Last-minute presidential pardons have been a long-standing tradition for outgoing U.S. presidents, and Trump is no exception.
On Tuesday, in his last full day in office, US President Donald Trump – who faces legal action himself – is expected to announce the pardon of more than 100 people, local media reported, ending a tumultuous four-year term.
So far, it’s unclear who is on this list.
But Trump, who faces a Senate trial over his alleged role in inciting a violent mob of supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol January 6, would have even considered to forgive in a preventive way, as well as his children.
Last-minute presidential pardons have long been customary for outgoing US presidents. Although the authority was put in place to give presidents the humanitarian power to overturn wrongful convictions, commute excessively harsh sentences to rehabilitated people, or a gesture of mercy – many presidents have used this power as a favor to supporters and allies. And Trump appears to be on track to continue this tradition.
What is a presidential pardon?
The US Constitution gives the President the power to issue “stays and pardons for offenses against the United States.”
But a president can only forgive federal crimes, not state crimes. And he cannot issue pardons for congressional impeachment cases.
Legal experts noted that a pardon does not void a conviction, but rather exempts the person from punishment – such as jail time or fines – under that conviction.
While most pardons are granted to people who have already been convicted by a court, they can also be preventive, covering behavior that has not yet been prosecuted or has not resulted in a guilty verdict, but they cannot apply to crimes committed in the future.
Perhaps the most famous example of preventive pardon in American history is that of President Gerald Ford who pardoned his predecessor Richard Nixon after his resignation in 1974 for all crimes he might have committed during his mandate.
Who could forgive Trump?
According to various press reports, Trump could forgive his former campaign adviser Steve Bannon, co-founder of the far-right Breitbart News. He was accused last year of lying to donors about how their contributions to a campaign to build a wall along the US-Mexico border would be used.
He could also forgive his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Federal prosecutors have investigated his business dealings in Ukraine and two of his associates have already been charged.
Who has Trump forgiven so far?
He notably pardoned former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former adviser Roger Stone, as well as former national security adviser Michael Flynn who were convicted in a special advocate investigation into the Russian interference in the 2016 US elections.
He also pardoned Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law, Jared. The property developer was sentenced to two years in prison in 2005 for illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion and witness tampering.
Can he forgive his children?
Yes, Trump can and can forgive his adult children, Don Jr, Eric and Ivanka, all of whom have assumed important roles working in the White House and in his campaign. So far, none have been formally charged with crimes.
Can Trump forgive himself?
There is no precedent for this as no US president has done so, so it will be up to the courts to decide whether Trump has the legal authority to forgive. himself under the Constitution.
Trump could have legal issues stemming from his alleged role in prompting his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol on January 6 during a fiery hour speech.
A January 2 phone call to Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger could also put him in legal danger. During a leaked audio recording, he was heard asking Raffensperger to “find” the votes he needed to win the state to Joe Biden – a move that could be interpreted as an attempt to intervene in an election, which is a violation of federal law.
There is also speculation that Trump could be trapped in investigations of former associates or even new investigations opened after his departure. However, there are multiple state and local investigations into Trump and his businesses that would not be covered by a presidential pardon.