Despite the outlandish example, he’s probably right.
WASHINGTON ― Candidate Donald Trump bragged that he could shoot someone on New York’s Fifth Avenue and not lose any support, and now President Donald Trump’s lawyer says Trump could shoot the FBI director in the Oval Office and still not be prosecuted for it.
Rudy Giuliani told HuffPost Sunday, claiming a president’s constitutional powers are that broad. “I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is.” Giuliani said impeachment was the initial remedy for a president’s illegal behavior ― even in the extreme hypothetical case of Trump having shot former FBI Director James Comey to end the Russia investigation rather than just firing him.
“If he shot James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day,” Giuliani said. “Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him.”
The issue is that the president’s pardon power is sweeping. The Constitution says that, “The President…shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” There is only one exception in there and it is regarding impeachment. The Constitution also doesn’t prohibit the President from pardoning himself or herself.
So it seems pretty clear that in an extreme case, a rogue and criminal president could pardon himself and the only remedy the American people would have would be to impeach him. Even then, the pardon would probably still be valid. A pardon can only be used to pardon a crime already committed. It can’t be used as a blanket immunity or to pardon future crimes. So if the President murdered the FBI Director and then pardoned himself, the only thing the people could do would be to impeach him, remove him from office, and then wait for himt o commit some other crime for which to prosecute him.
That would make a fun plot for a Clancy novel.
So Pence could shoot Trump, Pence becomes President, and pardons himself? Assuming of course that the Republicans would still be where they are today, in which they can’t find their scruples.
Nemo debet esse iudex in propria causa.