After pardoning former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Trump on Thursday shared a call from Gaetz encouraging him to pardon himself. “Trump should pardon Michael Flynn, he should pardon the Thanksgiving Turkey, he should pardon everyone from himself to his administration officials to Joe Exotic if he has too,” Gaetz told Fox News prior to Flynn’s pardoning.
Following news reports of Trump’s retweet, Fox News host Julie Banderas asked Reuters correspondent Jeff Mason whether he is authorized to pardon himself. “The president cannot pardon himself though, can he?” she said.
“There’s been a lot of question marks and speculation about that,” Mason responded. “My understanding, the answer to that is no. But I suspect that’s something we will continue to see debated in the weeks to come before President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on January 20th.”
Trump could face numerous lawsuits and criminal investigations upon leaving office, which his role as Commander in Chief has protected him from over the past four years. While it is unclear whether he has the authority to do so, some have suggested that he might attempt to preemptively protect himself from the prospect of facing criminal charges.
Trump previously insisted that he has the power to pardon himself amid former special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. “I do have an absolute right to pardon myself,” the president told reporters in June 2018. “But I will never have to do it because I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“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?” the president added in a tweet. “In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!”
Last week, Brian Kalt, a Michigan State University constitutional law professor, told Newsweek, “My standard answer here is ‘Well, he can try.”
However, most voters indicated in a recent poll that Trump should not be able to pardon himself. A NBC LX/YouGov survey of 1,200 registered voters, conducted November 22, showed 72 percent saying that U.S. presidents should not be allowed to pardon themselves, compared to 13 percent who said they should.
Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.