Could Donald Trump Pardon Himself With A “Pocket Pardon”?

( The House special January 6 committee has referred former President Donald Trump to the Department of Justice for criminal charges related to his role in the Capitol riot.

The former president is also facing a separate criminal inquiry by the DOJ into the Capitol riot, as well as a case regarding classified documents that he took with him to his Florida residence at Mar-a-Lago after he left the White House.

The special master that was appointed to oversee the investigation — at the request of Trump’s legal team — was dismissed by an appeals court, pushing the investigation into overdrive. Now, federal investigators are able to restart their investigation without any disruptions.

Many people believe that these investigations will ultimately result in criminal charges being handed down to Trump. And so, many of these same people have predicted that Trump may try to pardon himself — using privileges he enjoyed when he was still president.

Andrew Wortman, a Democratic activist, tweeted on this topic recently, writing:

“Going on record now and saying there is at least a 99 percent chance that Trump issued himself a pardon while he was still in office that he plans to pull out of his pocket and try to use as an actual get-out-of-jail-free card the moment he’s finally indicted/arrested (It will not work).”

One-time federal prosecutor Ron Filipkowski also quipped:

“2023, we may get the answer to two constitutional questions: 1. Are ‘pocket pardons’ valid? 2. Can a president pardon himself?”

Others have wondered whether Trump could eventually pardon himself again if he were able to win back the White House in 2024.

In the past, Trump has flirted with self-pardoning himself in the past. He didn’t put his own name on the list of dozens of people who he pardoned right before he left the White House.

That means it’s very possible that Trump may try to use what’s known as a “pocket” pardon. If he were to do so, it would mark quite the significant moment in U.S. political history.

The Constitution states that only convictions for federal crimes are eligible for presidential pardons. Luckily for Trump, most of the investigations currently proceeding against him are federal investigations — meaning they’d at least be eligible for a presidential pardon under the Constitution.

This leaves the possibility that a president could have the opportunity to pardon himself.

Dr. Richard Johnson, who serves at the Queen Mary University of London as a senior lecturer of U.S. politics and policy, said recently that if there were to be a limit on self-pardons “it proabbly would have been included in the constitutional text alongside these other limitations.” He continued:

“We may think it wrong for a president to be able to pardon himself, but we might also think it wrong that the president can pardon his brother (like Bill Clinton) or campaign supporters (like Donald Trump). Yet, simply because they are inappropriate or bad uses of the pardon power does not make them constitutionally impossible.”

In other words, we may soon see whether Trump uses the pocket pardon to try to save himself, and whether the court system will allow him to use it.