Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The GOP pardon pool

Emptywheel announces the George Bush Last-Minute Pardon Betting Pool. Who's your money on?

It's almost unfair of me to give away the ending, but, as with "Murder on the Orient Express," the answer is--everyone.

(Oops. Retroactive spoiler alert. Sorry.)

The only question is, what about the last two men out the door? One of the unspoken truths of the 2008 campaign is that, if Obama wins, the odds of Cheney and Bush ever being called to account for their high crimes are very slim; if McCain wins the odds are zero.

My original theory, assuming that Obama wins the election, was that Bush would pardon Cheney late in the morning of January 20th, then resign, and Cheney, as the new president, would pardon Bush. (It would have been Cheney's staffers' plan; 'way too complicated for Junior.)

My new theory is that Bush will pardon Cheney sometime during the final days and then simply pardon himself, as the ultimate logical extension of the Unitary Executive Theory. After all, you can't get much more unitary than a self-pardon.


verasoie said...

I don't think you can be pardoned for crimes that have not yet been charged, so they're still up a creek.

Nothstine said...

As I understand it, you can be pardoned before any charges are made.

Here's the key passage from Gerald Ford's announcement that he was pardoning Nixon in 1974:

"Now, therefore, I, Gerald R. Ford, President of the United States, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon me by Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, have granted and by these presents do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from July (January) 20, 1969, through August 9, 1974.


Nothstine said...

More: Slate's Jacob Liebenluft has a more detailed discussion of preemptive presidential pardons.

Bottom line: Yes, he can. There really aren't many proven limits to the president's power to issue pardons.