Trump's Corrupt Use of the Pardon Power

6 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2018  

Mark Greenberg

UCLA School of Law and Department of Philosophy

Harry Litman

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers Law School

Date Written: June 25, 2018

Abstract

In no aspect of his presidency has Trump acted more immorally and done more damage to the rule of law and constitutional norms than in his exercise of the pardon power. He has granted only five pardons, far fewer than any modern president at a comparable stage. And the immediate practical consequences of these pardons have been modest relative to the havoc he has wreaked with other endeavors — for example, his all-out assault on federal law enforcement institutions. But his pardons violate core principles of justice and appear designed to settle scores with enemies and to encourage allies to resist cooperation with the Mueller investigation. At times, Trump appears almost gleeful about using the pardon power in a manner directly contrary to its purpose.

Three of his pardons — the recent surprise grant to conservative political commentator Dinesh D’Souza; the April grant to Scooter Libby, former adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney; and the pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio last August — involve grave abuses of presidential power. Each of these pardons was a debasement of the pardon power and an egregious affront to constitutional norms and the rule of law.

Keywords: executive power, power or pardon, constitutional norms, rule of law

Suggested Citation

Greenberg, Mark and Litman, Harry, Trump's Corrupt Use of the Pardon Power (June 25, 2018). LAWFARE (JUNE 19, 2018); UCLA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 18-25. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3202408

Mark Greenberg (Contact Author)

UCLA School of Law and Department of Philosophy ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States
(310) 206-1337 (Phone)
(310) 825-6023 (Fax)

Harry Litman

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers Law School ( email )

NJ
United States

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