WASHINGTON – The speculation that President Donald Trump may grant clemency before leaving office for family members or other supporters raises the question of whether pardons can be issued in advance – that is, before someone is charged with a crime.
And the answer is definitely yes.
As early as 1866, the Supreme Court stated that the right to pardon “applies to any crime known by law and may be exercised at any time after it has been committed, whether before the commencement of court proceedings, during their dependence, or after conviction and judgment. . “
This means that pardon can be granted before someone is investigated, charged or convicted.
The authority is provided by the Constitution, which states that the President “has the authority to grant restraint and pardon for crimes against the United States”. So grace refers to things that have already been done that are potential federal crimes; in other words, grace cannot refer to future conduct, only to past actions.
Samuel Morison, a Washington lawyer and former pardon lawyer for the Department of Justice, said the president could even issue a pardon that applies to virtually anything a person has done in the past.
“The limits of the power of grace must be found in the Constitution, and the only limit the Supreme Court has ever recognized is that it must commit the crime,” Morison said.
Graces can be formulated broadly. The pardon given just before Thanksgiving to Michael Trump, a former national security adviser to Fly Trump, applies to his lies to the FBI, to everything covered by his previous legal basis agreement, and to “any crime that arises from known facts and circumstances, Robert Mueller identified by his former special adviser or in any way related.
President Andrew Johnson gave comprehensive grace to everyone who participated in the Confederacy during the Civil War. President Jimmy Carter granted unconditional pardon to the men who evaded the draft during the Vietnam War. And most famously, President Gerald Ford gave Richard Nixon “full, free, and absolute pardon” for his conduct in connection with the Watergate scandal, which led to the House’s prosecution proceedings.
So the notion that grace can be “preventive” is indisputable.