Can a President Hillary Clinton Pardon Herself?

Well, even though the FBI has once again said that it will not pursue charges against Hillary Clinton over the infamous email scandal, there is no shortage of investigations still going on. There is plenty of noise being made surrounding the Clinton Foundation’s shady dealings, and WikiLeaks is still threatening to drop even more bombshells in the one final remaining day before the election. So, it seems probably that Hillary Clinton will probably pull this thing out and be the President-Elect come Wednesday morning. But how does that work with an FBI investigation and at least some potential for a criminal indictment in the works?

Don't worry. I got you.
Don’t worry. I got you.

Well, as you probably know, one of the greatest and most sweeping powers of the office of President in the United States is the ability to pardon. A President has never pardoned himself, but it is not clear that this is necessarily impossible. Constitutional experts have been weighing in saying that a President Hillary Clinton could indeed pardon herself. Also, the outgoing President Obama could pardon her. But is either likely? Let’s look at it in more detail.

For President Obama, it could be a sticky situation. If Hillary were indicted before she took over the office in January, he could pardon her, but that would mean tarnishing his own legacy because it would no doubt be one of the most historical and controversial pardons of all time. He would forever be remembered for pardoning the President-Elect so she could be President. He might do it anyway for the sake of the country’s power structure. Or he might give Hillary the final middle finger. After all, it’s no secret that President Obama and Hillary Clinton are not BFF’s. Their primary battle in 2008 was bloody, and many believe that Obama is only actively campaigning on her behalf because of the fear of a President Trump more than really supporting her candidacy. If she wins the election outright and Trump is officially out of the picture, Obama may decide to leave her on her own with a potential indictment.

If Hillary Clinton were indicted after becoming President, it would be more interesting. She could pardon herself, yes. It would be controversial to a degree like nothing we’ve ever seen before, and would definitely have an authoritarian flare to it. But she could do it, and it would most likely stand. It’s possible that Republicans may challenge it and the Supreme Court might have to eventually rule on whether it is legal for someone to pardon themselves of a crime. However, that would be the Supreme Court populated with at least one more Hillary Clinton-appointee. Basically, at this point, we would see the kind of massive government corruption that would dwarf what we have seen so far, and that is saying a lot.

A pardon by Obama or by herself would save Hillary from the criminal part of the charge and prevent her from ever being convicted and possibly going to prison. What it cannot do is stop her from being impeached. The Congress has that authority, and not even a Presidential pardon stops the possibility of impeachment proceedings. So, even if she was pardoned, she would almost definitely find herself facing the charges in Congress. That is, unless Democrats controlled the House and Senate, in which case they would not bring charges, or would bring them only to end it once and for all. However, it is not expected that Democrats will take the Presidency and both houses. At best, Hillary might win and find a Democratic Senate to work with, but the House is most likely safe for Republicans for two more years. This means that if criminal charges were brought against Hillary, you can bet your last dime impeachment proceedings will at least be brought forward. Whether enough support (or evidence) would exist to actually make that happen remains to be seen. It is all speculation at this point.

Now, if Donald Trump pulled a miracle and beat Hillary outright on Election Day, President Obama would almost definitely pardon Hillary. This is because Trump with a Republican-controlled House would certainly be able to pursue charges against Clinton with that kind of influence, so Obama would pardon her (with chagrin for what it means for his own legacy) because at the end of the day, these guys are gonna stick up for each other. Obama might not like Hillary, but he’s not going to stand by and let her go to prison. Remember, there’s probably quite a few things Hillary Clinton knows about the Obama administration, so he would definitely be in a corner on that deal.

Ironically, it would appear looking at the facts that Hillary Clinton would almost certainly be pardoned any way it goes. Hmm, how does that make you feel about the fairness of our justice system, Americans?

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