Can a U.S. president pardon himself? Most voters say ‘no’

June 15, 2018

On June 4, America’s Tweeter-in-Chief sent out a message, saying that, “As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself.” However, based on findings of a poll conducted the following week among nearly 2,000 registered U.S. voters by Morning Consult and Politico, the American public disagrees.

Specifically, as Time magazine reported this week, 58% of registered voters said they do not believe the president has the power to pardon himself, while only 21% agreed with Trump on the issue.

Trump took his stand on Twitter two days after The New York Times published a confidential January 29 memo from his then-lawyer John Dowd to Special Counsel Robert Mueller—which comprised the only current legal argument for the power of the president to pardon himself.

A 1974 memo written by Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary Lawton of the Office of Legal Counsel under President Richard Nixon stated that the president could not self-pardon, based on the long-standing legal principle that no person can be their own judge, Time points out.

What’s more, although the Supreme Court never has ruled on the issue—and the POTUS’s current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said recently that Trump would not pardon himself because it could then trigger his impeachment by the House of Representatives.

Based on the Morning Consult/Politico poll findings, the prevailing sentiment against a self-pardon was even stronger among some groups, with 76% of Democrats and 61% of Independents opining that it would not be legally permissible. Republicans, however, were split, with 36% saying it would not be permissible and 33% saying it would be.

Research contact: editors@morningconsult.com

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