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Adler: Trump couldn't pardon himself

| December 11, 2020 1:00 AM

President Donald Trump has left open the door to granting himself a presidential pardon — or possibly of resigning in time to let acting President Mike Pence pardon him.

An internet search of “Can Trump pardon himself?” returns just about every possibility between hell yes and hell no. But if you ask constitutional scholar Dr. David Adler — he of Coeur d’Alene lecture fame — the answer is a simple but forceful “no.”

Adler, whose constitutional research and subsequent views are sometimes panned by local conservatives but respected by many others, addresses the questions of Trump pardoning himself or Pence pardoning the former president if Trump were to resign. You can watch the Adler analyses on his Alturus Institute YouTube channel.

On the issue of pardoning his potentially criminal activities (, Trump would face four obstacles, according to Adler. The roughly 6 minute video explains each one, but a common theme is that even though Trump believes he has “unlimited powers” as president, Adler insists the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law would absolutely limit the powers of a president.

In another video that lasts about 10 minutes (, Adler tackles questions viewers had about the Trump pardon video — including whether or not an acting President Pence could pardon his predecessor. While Adler argues Pence could not, for his own personal, political or professional future if not a constitutional preclusion, he acknowledges that Gerald Ford pardoned his former boss, Richard Nixon, in September 1974. Nixon had resigned in disgrace the month before, at which time Ford said he would not pardon the former president.

While the possibility of a Trump pardon is purely speculative, Adler makes an excellent point in noting that such pardons are for federal crimes only. There is no provision that would protect Trump or his family members from state criminal charges.

It is known that New York state is investigating Trump’s financial activities. Some have suggested the president may have engaged in tax evasion or fraud, allegations he would have to face in a court of law if state charges are filed. There would be no federal circumvention or easy way out.

While COVID-19 prevented Dr. Adler from visiting Coeur d’Alene in May, as has been tradition (he did a remote lecture anyway), his fans can help him out by watching the Alturus Institute videos on YouTube, liking them, sharing them with others and subscribing to the channel. Subscribing is free — and Adler’s lectures are priceless.