Can Donald Trump Pardon Someone With a Tweet?
If you've read my bio on Gongsters, you know I love listening to podcasts. In a new one I’ve been listening to from Roman Mars, What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law, UC Davis professor Elizabeth Joh helps Roman understand constitutional law with the help of tweets from our orange skinned leader Donald Trump. A recent episode touched on a power the President possesses to pardon any federal crime… Via tweeting.
As ridiculous as this may sound, Professor Joh actually proves how plausible this may be. Most people believe that the President’s power to pardon is mainly used to save turkeys during Thanksgiving, but Presidents can use their pardon power to shorten sentences, restore the civil rights of an individual, remiss fines, or just completely wipe the crime all together.
Normally, a Presidential action goes under review by other state branches and must be approved, but not for pardons, the President can issue a pardon to anyone they deem deserving and any pardon is final,
“That’s pretty amazing. It’s contrary to the way we think about the other branches of government work normally with criminal justice. So this is a kind of ultimate power that derives back to the power of kings, an ability of our chief executive to show this ultimate mercy.”
George Washington gave his first high profile pardon to leaders of The Whiskey Rebellion when farmers protested the taxing of alcoholic beverages to cover war debts. President Gerald Ford pardoned former president Richard Nixon for the misconduct that led to the Watergate Scandal. Jimmy Carter once granted amnesty to draft dodgers of the Vietnam war.
What I’m trying to make you all understand is that pardons happen all the time, in fact just this year President Obama shortened the sentences of US Army Soldier Chelsea Manning and Puerto Rican rights activist and militant leader Oscar Lopez Rivera.
Ok ok ok, I’ve just spouted a bunch of facts. You may be wondering how exactly President Trump can tweet a pardon? Certainly there has to be some kind of official form the president has to sign allowing for the pardon to have legitimacy right?
Alright well, the answer is, we’re not entirely sure. There are guidelines for granting pardons and requesting pardons of the President, but the way in how the President grants those pardons are fuzzy. There is a Office of The Pardon Attorney which reviews and grants recommendations to whom the president can pardon, but the president has power absolute to grant a pardon in whatever form he chooses.
Abraham Lincoln once issued a pardon to 55 convicted military deserters after he was sent a letter from general General Joseph Hooker asking for a pardon. The President wrote “pardoned” on the letter, sent it back, and they were free to go. The notion that President Trump can write a 140 character pardon to someone on Twitter doesn’t seem that farfetched when a single 7 character word handwritten on a letter counted.
I’m not sure that President Trump would pardon somebody over Twitter, but if he did it would be closer to the end of his presidency as to not tarnish his name. The idea of it however is bananas. This is the kind of stuff I’m learning on, What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law, and if you’d like to learn along with me you can follow them on iTunes here, or search for them on your favorite podcast app.
I’m gonna see if @realDonaldTrump will pardon all the jaywalking I’ve done. Leave a comment for when i get back.