Will Trump try to pardon himself on his way out of the White House?

Trump pardons
(Image credit: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump is very likely to issue a raft of pardons in the last 10 weeks of his presidency. Many presidents do, and Trump in particular has been "obsessed with the power of pardons" ever since he learned he had that power in 2017, a former White House official tells CNN. "I always thought he also liked it because it was a way to do a favor."

Unidentified sources tell CNN that Trump is most likely to pardon former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn; former campaign chair Paul Manafort; Rudy Giuliani; Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law Jared Kushner; Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg; his children; and maybe even himself. "Trump has been asking aides since 2017 about whether he can self-pardon," CNN reports, citing former aides, and he himself tweeted in June 2018: "As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself."

It isn't clear at all Trump does have that power. The courts haven't been asked to decide whether a president can self-pardon, and when the Nixon White House looked into it, the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel said no. "Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the president cannot pardon himself," the OLC wrote in August 1974.

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Would Trump really test this out? "Of course he will," one former official said. "Others believe it's unlikely, because doing so would imply he's guilty of something," CNN reports. Garrett Graff suggested Trump might try to pardon a corporation, the Trump Organization.

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance told MSNBC Thursday night she fully expects Trump to at least try to self-pardon, but noted it won't protect him from civil charges from New York Attorney General Letitia James or "criminal investigations that are clearly being done by Manhattan D.A. Cy Vance." She also marveled at "the audacity of a president who's so clearly concerned about his own criminal culpability, and that of his family members, that pardons are a major obsession with him." Watch below. Peter Weber

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