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A Trump Self-Pardon Could Make Criminal Charges More Likely

  • Capitol siege has scrambled political calculus of prosecution
  • The Supreme Court could strike down any Trump self-pardon
President Donald Trump speaks during a "Save America Rally" near the White House in Washington, on Jan. 6.

President Donald Trump speaks during a "Save America Rally" near the White House in Washington, on Jan. 6.

Photographer: Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg

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Any move by President Donald Trump to pardon himself in his final days in office could backfire, legal experts say, inviting the incoming administration to challenge the unprecedented action by filing criminal charges against him.

Trump has raised the possibility of a self-pardon in recent days as calls grow for him to face prosecution for inciting the U.S. Capitol siege that resulted in five deaths and sent members of Congress scrambling for safety. But though the president has vast authority to grant clemency to others, a self-pardon would be a novel assertion of executive power that both Democrats and Republicans might want the Supreme Court to strike down.