Sujit Choudhry: Is the President Above the Law?

Sujit Choudhry, a comparative constitutional law and politics expert, recently reviewed the issue of President Donald Trump’s claims to the authority to pardon himself. The President confirmed that the administration later dismissed the matter with assertions that he has done nothing wrong that calls for pardoning. Sujit Choudhry confirmed the pardon powers of the President based on Article II Section 2 of the United States Constitution that empowers the President to give pardons for offenses except for impeachment. However, the statement does not state whether the President should pardon himself or not. Remarkably, the issue has come up severally in American history, starting from the resignation of President Nixon, who was granted a pre-emptive pardon by his successor. A more recent case is during the reign of President Bill Clinton. President Bill pardoned himself after the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The federal judge at the time noted that that the issue had been left inconclusive, concluding that the President has the authority to pardon himself.

Sujit Choudhry affirmed that the President had increased interest in his authority to pardon. This was after a visit by Kim Kardashian at the White House to argue in favor of Alice Johnson, who had been in prison for more than two decades for drug-related convictions even though her crimes were non-violent. The President lately pardoned numerous persons, including Dinesh D’Souza, Joe Arpaio, a former Sheriff in Arizona, Scooter Libby, and Jack Johnson. Various commentators suggested that the President is exercising the pardon powers in a bid to pardon the targets of the United States Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigation, claims that the President denied. Sujit Choudhry spots an interest by the public in whether the President should pardon himself, citing the act as political suicide. The public analysts perceive that such action would be on the grounds of impeachment. Sujit Choudhry pinpoints another argument largely overlooked that there is no evidence in existence proving that the Constitution makers intended the President to have more power than the English monarch, where the King had a royal entitlement of mercy towards other people. About the monarch, it is concluded that the President cannot pardon himself.

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