Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Could Donald Trump Get Saved by a Pardon?

Whether the president has the power to pardon himself is a constitutional question that has remained unresolved, even after it was brought up repeatedly during Trump’s presidency.

Donald Trump. Image by Gage Skidmore.
Donald Trump. Image by Gage Skidmore.

Can Trump be pardoned in the New York case?: Donald Trump loved to use the pardon power when he was president. But some of the cases facing him are not federal crimes, and therefore cannot be pardoned by a future president. 

The State of Play

When he was president, Donald Trump enjoyed using the pardon power, issuing pardons to everyone from Russiagate figures like Paul Manafort to convicted corrupt politicians of both parties and even Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Even after leaving office, Trump has implied that he would issue pardons to participants in the January 6 insurrection

This has naturally raised the question of whether Trump’s current legal woes could be solved by a future presidential pardon, either of a restored Trump pardoning himself or another future Republican president doing it. 

In the current cases against Trump, however, both the Manhattan/Stormy Daniels case and the Georgia election interference case are at the state level, and therefore outside the scope of the presidential pardon power. 

Donald Trump and The Legal Drama Show

Ari Melber, the MSNBC host, and legal analyst, appeared on “Morning Joe” and discussed where things stand with the Manhattan case. Trump had predicted last week that he would be indicted imminently, but the grand jury did not meet on Wednesday or Thursday, which will almost certainly push any announcement of an indictment into next week. 

Melber argued that the Manhattan case is “in the ninth inning,” and that it’s not likely that there is much to be read into the delay of the announcement. He also said that when prosecutors in New York have to put out a memo guaranteeing the safety of his staff, as District Attorney Alvin Bragg did earlier this week, it’s usually in response to a case involving someone like the Mexican drug lord El Chapo, or La Cosa Nostra. 

But he added that Trump cannot be pardoned in the New York case. 

“There is no help for him, there is no back door, there is no federal pardon,” Melber said. “Even if a different Republican won the White House, which could happen, this is a local jurisdiction, there’s no backup plan.” 

Trump could be pardoned by the governor of New York, but Gov. Kathy Hochul is a Democrat and unlikely to do so. And Georgia is one of the few states in which the governor does not have the power to directly issue pardons. Even if he did, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp is both a Trump enemy and directly involved in the case. 

That leaves the cases involving the special counsel, who is looking into both Trump’s actions post-election, and his classified document practices. Any indictment or conviction in those criminal cases could theoretically be pardoned by a president. 

Whether the president has the power to pardon himself is a constitutional question that has remained unresolved, even after it was brought up repeatedly during Trump’s presidency. But in the increasingly likely scenario that Trump is running for president with an indictment hanging over his head, whether or not he might try to self-pardon will likely become a major issue in the campaign. 

What History Says 

And it’s even more likely that every one of his Republican opponents will be asked if they themselves would pardon Trump, should they reach the White House. President Gerald Ford pardoned his predecessor, Richard Nixon, shortly after taking power, which historians widely see as a blunder that helped cause Ford’s defeat to Jimmy Carter in 1976. So any candidate who pledged to pardon Trump — or actually did it — would likely risk a similar fate. 

And of course, some pundits who don’t live in the real world, like the New York Times’s Bret Stephens, have suggested that Biden should pardon Trump himself, at least for the federal documents case. That is extremely unlikely, as Biden said back in 2020 that he would never pardon Trump.

Stephen L. Carter of Bloomberg News, last fall, suggested that Biden pardon Trump in exchange for a promise not to run for public office again, but that’s just as likely, and there are questions about whether such a deal would even be legal. 

MORE: Is AOC a Sellout? 

MORE: Hunter Biden Has a Big China Problem

MORE: Kamala Harris ‘Seems to Be An Albatross’

MORE: Pete Buttigieg: Running for President? 

MORE: What Trump Getting Arrested Could Look Like

Expertise and Experience: Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.



  1. Old Mr Bill

    March 25, 2023 at 10:26 am

    There has to be a charge or a conviction before it can be pardoned. They have been chasing that snipe for 6 years.

  2. Timothy McCoy

    March 25, 2023 at 12:55 pm

    maybe by Putin….

  3. katie

    March 25, 2023 at 9:05 pm

    watch on YouTube trumps ending speech. or the debate between Biden and trump the truth is there?
    question? Why isn’t Biden being held accountable?
    As far as I’m considered this is all diversion.
    what’s really going on? ay

  4. sharon L brannon

    March 27, 2023 at 4:27 pm

    Why ua tgis Trump crap still going on, WHEN WE HAVE A PRESIDENT AND THE ENTIRE BIDEN CRIME FAMILY IS NOT THE TOPIC WE SHOULS BE FOCUSING ON, HE HAS, cost millions of jobs, we should pump our own oil and gas!!!!. The America I grew up loving and respecting is gone, he sold American soil to China, due to his sanctions on farmland, farmers who have been ranchers for generations, is ending. I dont want to eat plant food, I want to eat meat, our own vegatqbles and fruitThis climate crap we will never see it, my great-grandchildren might, if we are not nuked, which is his fault. All this violence his fault, borders opened, people dying daily from a drug we never had a problem with, I am a nurse charge nurse, who taught meds, fentanyl is killer if not used correctly, thats his fault.HE CARES NOTHING ABOUT AMERICA;S PEOPLE JUST STARVE US. HE THINKS HE IS UNTOUCHABLE HE HATES TRUMP SO BADLY THATS WHY HE CHANGED E-THING TITLE42, HAD THE DESK CHANGED IN OVAL OFFICE, WHICH IM SURE WAS USED BY MOST ALL PRESIDENTS, HE WANTED TO HAVE NOTHING THEIR THAT WAS TRUMPS, EXCET DEMONIZED PELOSI, WHO STILL HAS HER MOUTH IN HIS EAR!!!! MAY GOD BLESS AMERICA, BECAUSE WE NEED IT!! IMPEACH BIDEN, FOR ALL HIS DOCUMENTS HE HAD FOR YRS AND YRS AS WELL. WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND!!

  5. neil ulrich

    March 27, 2023 at 9:53 pm

    One has to admit to the CRIME to request a Presidential Pardon. SO, the matter is moot. IF Trump is convicted of any Federal Crime, any President, Republican OR Democrat should pardon him. However, Trump will NEVER admit he committed any crime, large or small and therefore will never be granted a Presidential Pardon. If convicted of any Federal Crime, it is likely Trump would go to prison if the mandatory sentence is more than 13 months. His ego will be his downfall.

  6. Lee

    March 28, 2023 at 2:31 pm

    It wouldn’t matter if he was pardoned for his many crimes. He would just go on committing them.

  7. dabigmoose

    March 31, 2023 at 1:05 am

    Have any of you ever been in court no one is convicted of anything as yet. Trump only has to show up do some paperwork and leave. The preliminary hearing a judge could toss it all out. Once his attorney files a motion of Discovery the DA has to turn everything over to them. Doubt it make it very far.

  8. Rodney Morgan Brown

    March 31, 2023 at 10:02 am

    Love and admire Joe Biden, but it may be time for a younger man in the White House. He has reach is goal of being the Chief Executive, so he
    should not run again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *