INDIANAPOLIS — Following the chaos at the Capitol on Wednesday, there have been reports that President Donald Trump has been contemplating the idea of pardoning himself. It would be the first time a president has done it.
“The creators of the constitution seemed to strongly support the rule of law which means that nobody is above the law,” details Indiana University (IU) political science professor Elizabeth Bennion, “They also set up a situation where people would not be judging their own cases.”
Bennion says any pardon would not protect the President from any cases brought on within a state. Should the pardon be contested, she believes the Supreme Court would likely side against it, as it would set a precedent for other presidents to get away with future crimes.
“He said that he plans to [self-pardon] many times, but it probably depends on how much he listens to his advisors,” continues Bennion.
Should there be any objection to a presidential self-pardon, Bennion explains that it would have to start with a lawsuit that states the pardon would damage the nation as a whole.
“Most likely the answer is probably a federal prosecutor who would bring this suit,” believes Bennion.
“I think it would outrage democrats who have for the most part seen Trump as a lawless President,” suggests Steven Webster, an assistant professor of political science at IU.
As far as acceptance of a self-pardon, Webster believes it will fall along party lines, however some republicans have been distancing themselves from the President since the attack on the Capitol.
“I think the question is what happens to Trump-style politics once Trump leaves the White House. I think what we are seeing is the Republican Party trying to figure this out themselves,” details Webster, “Regardless of what happens to Donald Trump, I think his politics will remain to some degree an aspect of the Republican party, so for me, it’s just how much. I would be surprised if he retreats into silence after he leaves the White House. I think there are people in the republican party who are more loyal to Donald Trump than to even the party.”
Webster went on to say, despite their marginal control over Congress, there is also division amongst the left and centrist legislators in the Democratic party.
“I don’t think the next four years will hold the passage of a lot of legislation, or significant legislation, because the divisions that exist are not likely to go away,” says Webster.