Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Nixon Pardon Unprecedented? No.

The Star Telegram notes:
“There are many examples in history of pre-conviction pardons, though none as open-ended as Nixon’s,” Margaret Love, who formerly served as the Justice Department’s chief pardon attorney, said in an email interview Wednesday.
We're not so sure we agree with that, if we are understanding the meaning correctly. Later, the same piece notes:
In theory, any case could be short-circuited by a presidential pardon granted before Trump takes office on Jan. 20. The precedent was set in September 1974, when President Gerald Ford extended a pardon to Nixon, his former boss, who stepped down rather than face impeachment and possible criminal charges ... He added that the “full, free and absolute pardon” covered all offenses that Nixon “has committed or may have committed or taken part in” during his presidency.
We looked, very briefly, at our own data set of presidential pardons and quickly came to disagree with that analysis, at least as it appears to us. Presidents have granted very open-ended, pre-emptive pardons before. Nixon's was not the first. In February of 1821, for example, James Monroe pardoned  a New Yorker who "allegedly" violated laws related to passenger vessels - before conviction - for "whatever offenses" that "may have been committed" in the time that he served as Master of a particular ship. The Editor's memory is that there other instances around, but that was the first, obvious one. See article here.

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