House Dems: Take Pardons Off The Table

Unum E Pluribus
3 min readFeb 14, 2019


Yes, you can!

The special council’s office has now stated in open court that the office believes the possibility of a presidential pardon is interfering with its investigation. The office stated that it influenced Paul Manafort to stop cooperating in the Russia probe.

Given this outrage, House Democrats must demand that the president publicly vow not to pardon anyone indicted in the Mueller probe and not interfere with the investigation in any way or face immediate impeachment.

No proof of presidential wrong doing is necessary here because the purpose of the impeachment in this instance is the suspension of the pardon power not removal from office. This is one of the intended uses of impeachment, according to the Brookings Institutes’s D. W. Buffa.

Buffa quotes founding father James Madison, one of the chief architects of the constitution, as saying during the constitutional convention:

‘if the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds to believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty … suspend him when suspected, and the power will devolve on the Vice-President.’

The constitution gives the president the pardon power ‘except in cases of impeachment’ and Boffa is arguing that the forefathers understood that exception to mean that an impeached president no longer has the power at all even before the senate trial for his removal takes place. What’s more, he’s saying that Madison himself believed that impeaching a president to suspect his impeachment power and thereby prevent interference in an investigation would be a legitimate use of the impeachment power. In fact, he believed it legitimate if congress merely suspected a president might misuse the pardon power to protect himself.

We have a lot more than suspicion at this point. Trump’s refusal to rule out pardons since the beginning of this investigation have fed the belief among targets in that investigation that they might be pardoned. That has, according to the special council’s office, already led at least on high profile figure to stop cooperating.

This must not be allowed to continue. Either the president takes the pardon off the table with a public statement or Democrats should take it away themselves.

Yes, there will be political backlash, but impeaching for the purpose of suspending the pardon power is likely to have far more public support than impeachment for removal, which Democrats can state they do not plan to pursue at this time. And they can point out that it’s up to the Republican controlled Senate anyway.

It also puts the GOP and president in a bind because the only way to give Trump the pardon power back is to hold an impeachment trial in the Senate and find him innocent. But doing that would provide a forum for the presentation of evidence against the President, including the Mueller report.

They will not want to do that. So it won’t happen, but in the mean time, Mueller’s report will be a little more protected.