The founding fathers never thought a president would pardon himself; they didn’t imagine Trump

President Trump has no compunction about invading legal boundaries. Since Nov. 3, he has waged a war against the courts and common sense.

SHARE The founding fathers never thought a president would pardon himself; they didn’t imagine Trump

AP Photos

Calls to remove President Donald J. Trump from office are raining down on his MAGA hat.

There may not be enough time to do the deed before his term runs out. Yet all the get-him-out talk in Washington could actually inspire Trump, in a final, diabolical act, to pardon himself on his way out the door.

Bloomberg News has reported Trump is contemplating a “sweeping” list of pardons for family members, allies and celebrities.

Columnists bug


In-depth political coverage, sports analysis, entertainment reviews and cultural commentary.

The roster includes his daughter, Ivanka; her husband, senior adviser Jared Kushner; and Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, according to “people familiar with the matter.” Trump, Bloomberg reports, intends to announce those pardons on Jan. 19, his final full day in office.

In a video released Thursday, Trump denounced the Capitol chaos that he had inspired and defended just the day before. He also pledged an orderly transition to a Joe Biden presidency.

But, notably, Trump did not promise to end his evil ways.

Can Trump really pardon himself? The U.S. Constitution is “maddeningly silent” on the question, writes Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

“This is likely to be because the founders simply didn’t think a president would ever be brash or corrupt enough to engage in pardon-worthy behavior, and then to pardon himself,” Levinson wrote in an essay for NBC News.

They didn’t know Donald Trump.

A presidential self-pardon has never been tested. Experts are divided on whether it would pass constitutional muster. 

Trump has no compunction about invading legal boundaries. Since the Nov. 3 election he has waged a war against the courts and common sense while trying to overturn a legal election.

His entire presidency has dealt in lies, not evidence.

Now, Trump will apparently deploy pardons and commutations to achieve the goal that matters most: protecting himself by shielding his allies and possible co-conspirators from prying prosecutors.

He is also reportedly looking to pardon the rappers Lil Wayne, Lil Yachty and Kodak Black. Why a bunch of rappers? Trump wants to remind us of his great love for Black folks and his abiding claim that he is “not a racist.”

One pardon that will light Trump’s fire, I predict: a presidential reprieve for Chicago Ald. Edward Burke. (A hat tip to Chicago Tribune City Hall reporter Gregory Pratt, who first tweeted the possibility last month).

Last February, Trump sprang disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich from the federal slammer, courtesy of a presidential commutation.

Burke, once the all-powerful alderman of the 14th Ward, is awaiting trial on a 14-count federal indictment, the charges including racketeering, extortion and bribery.

Trump’s preemptive pardon would reward Burke for greasing tax breaks for Trump Tower. For more than 12 years, Burke’s law firm worked to help Trump obtain property tax cuts for his failure in the sky. Trump’s savings added up to $14 million - all at taxpayers’ expense.

A preemptive pardon for Burke would give our Chicago-hating president one last irresistible opportunity for one last sneer.

Send letters to

The Latest
After going 4-3-2 in October, Luke Richardson challenged the Hawks to post an even better record in November. Instead, they’ve fallen into the NHL’s basement, going 2-7-2 this month with two games left in it.
The Wolverines advance to the Big Ten championship next Saturday, with hopes for a second straight playoff appearance firmly in their control.
Nearly 90 points were scored in the Class 5A state championship game at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, but the deciding moment was defensive.
As part of citywide Small Business Saturday events, the Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce rented trolleys to carry visitors along a route of local shops.
If Fields can’t play because of a separated left shoulder, Peterman would back up Trevor Siemian.