US President Donald Trump has told advisers on several occasions since Election Day that he is considering giving himself a preemptive pardon and asked what the legal and political ramifications would be if did so, according to a report by the New York Times published Thursday.
In addition to himself, Trump has considered pardons for his own family members, including three of his children — Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump — as well as Jared Kushner, Ivanka’s husband and senior advisor to the president. The report added that close associates like Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, are also on the potential list of pardons.
Trump suggested to advisers that President-elect Joe Biden’s Justice Department might investigate all of them.
The act of a presidential self-pardon is unprecedented, and its legitimacy remains in question.
The New York Times reported that legal experts are unsure if a court would recognize self-clemency, but agreed that doing so would create a dangerous precedent, enabling presidents to declare themselves above the law. Presidential pardons apply only to federal law and do not provide protection against state crimes.
Trump appears to have a great level of interest in pardoning himself and others, and reportedly offered preemptive pardons to advisers and administration officials as he has become more and more convinced his perceived enemies will investigate him and others after he leaves office.
A White House spokesman did not respond to The New York Times’ request for comment.
Trump, who has largely refused to accept the loss of the 2020 election, has been heard pleading in a phone call with Georgia’s election chief to overturn Biden’s win in the state.
“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state,” he said.
Mayhem unfolded at the US Capitol on Wednesday as rioters incited by Trump smashed their way into the building, ransacked its offices and mocked its leaders. During the chaos, one Trump supporter was shot and killed by police, in addition to four others who died in unclear circumstances, including a police officer.