People have asked if Obama give a presidential pardon to crooked Hillary Clinton. They’ve also asked if Hillary Clinton could pardon herself, if she were elected president.
Thankfully we won’t have to worry about the second scenario, as Hillary Clinton will go to Federal prison before she sits her fat ass in the Oval Office chair. Nonetheless, we wanted to provide some clarity on the questions.
Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution states as follows:
The President…shall have the power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.
In general, a pardon is the act of forgiving a crime. A pardon nullifies punishments or other legal consequences of a crime. However, a presidential pardon does not expunge a crime or remedy the past act. In other words, the crime can still be taken into consideration against the wrongdoer (e.g. on a job application or when giving a sentence for a different crime). For example, if the pardoned person is later tried for a similar crime, the pardoned crime may be taken into consideration when giving the sentence for the new crime. The pardon does not blot out the past.
One key thing to keep in mind: Presidential pardons only apply to federal criminal acts against the United States.
So, the president cannot pardon a person for violations of any federal civil laws or state criminal or civil laws. For example, if a person commits armed robbery at a local gas station and is convicted under state law for armed robbery, that person cannot receive a presidential pardon. Why? Because that person committed a state criminal act, not a federal criminal act. However, if that person also robbed a U.S. post office (a federal facility), then he or she could petition the president for a pardon of the robbery at the U.S. post office.
Presidential pardons can be granted anytime after an offense has been committed including before, during, or after a conviction for the offense. If granted before a conviction is given, it prevents any penalties from attaching to the person. If granted after a conviction, it removes the penalties, and restores the person to all his or her civil rights. However, a pardon can never be granted before an offense has been committed – because the president does not have the power to waive the laws.
Furthermore, because the power of the presidential pardon comes directly from the U.S. Constitution, it cannot modified, diminished or altered by any laws passed by Congress, except by an amendment to the Constitution (which is generally very difficult to do). Also, the president has unlimited pardon power, except in cases of impeachment. This means the president can pardon as many individuals as he or she wants for any federal criminal acts against the United States, unless that individual has been impeached by Congress (which is also very rare).
The different types of pardons and reprieves that the President can grant.
Impeachable conduct does not appear to be limited to criminal behavior. Congress has identified three general types of conduct that constitute grounds for impeachment, although these categories should not be understood as exhaustive: (1) improperly exceeding or abusing the powers of the office; (2) behavior incompatible with the function and purpose of the office; and (3) misusing the office for an improper purpose or for personal gain.
So, let’s say she wins, and Obama pardons her before leaving office. Am I correct that the potential charges would have to be defined? Can she still be impeached (charges brought) by Congress for those same crimes? Or would they have to be new crimes, not outlined or named in the previous presidential pardon?
If impeachment happened, there would be a trial in Senate, and a conviction means removal. Does a pardon affect the impeachment process?
A president cannot be impeached for crimes committed PRIOR to taking office.
Which presents this possibility: The FBI sits on what they have until Obama is out of office to avoid a pardon. In the meantime, Justice is still run by Lynch, and charges have to be brought by her, as the FBI is not a prosecutorial agency. We know that won’t happen.
If she’s charged between now and Inauguration Day, win or lose she gets pardoned. If she wins, her crimes are not impeachable, as they happened before taking office.
But – is she impeachable as Sec of State, since these crimes took place while she held that office?
We will continue to look for answers. If you have ideas, chime in.