On Thursday’s edition of CNN’s “OutFront,” Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe suggested that President Donald Trump could face criminal charges if he reveals national security secrets after leaving office.
“One former White House official said Trump asked about self-pardons, as well as pardons for his family,” said anchor Erin Burnett. “Could he do that, pardon himself and anyone he wanted to for any unknown criminal acts found subsequently before he leaves office?”
“He can certainly pardon his family, but pardoning himself would be an extraordinary and unprecedented act,” said Tribe. “Hundreds of years ago, Lord Cook in England established a principle that has been accepted in American law for centuries, and that is you cannot be a judge in your own case. If he tries to pardon himself, I think in the end that pardon would not hold up. But predicting what a court would do with such an unprecedented exercise of power is hard.”
“One thing we do know, he certainly cannot pardon himself vis-a-vis New York prosecution, either by Letitia James on behalf of the State of New York or by Cyrus Vance on behalf of Manhattan,” said Tribe. “State and local crimes, serious crimes, often punishable by years in prison, are not subject to the president’s pardon power. Another thing, we know he can’t pardon himself from the possible espionage he might commit after leaving office when he leaks secrets for his own benefit, classified information from his own government. He’s not good at keeping silent. Those future crimes are beyond the reach of the pardon power, vis-a-vis both the state and federal government.”