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What You Need to Know About Presidential Pardons

Bloomberg business news
President Donald Trump tweeted that he has power to pardon himself if he ever felt the need.Source: Bloomberg)
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The U.S. president has vast constitutional power to grant pardons to people facing possible prison terms even before charges are filed, or to commute the sentences of folks already in jail. President Donald Trump has broached the possibility of using that power to short-circuit the investigation into whether he or his campaign were involved in Russia’s interference with the 2016 presidential election, which he calls a "witch hunt." Trump has gone so far as to say he can pardon himself, something that no president has ever done. With Trump’s former campaign chairman and former personal attorney facing prison, the president’s power to pardon is getting renewed attention.

It’s an act of presidential forgiveness rooted in Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. A pardon wipes the slate clean for the recipient, even halting judicial proceedings that are under way. George Washington pardoned farmers convicted of treason after the 1791 Whiskey Rebellion. Grover Cleveland cleared Mormon polygamists in 1894 as part of Utah becoming a state. More recently, George H.W. Bush pardoned aides tied up in the Iran-Contra scandal, and Barack Obama commuted the sentences of hundreds of non-violent drug offenders.