Former President Donald Trump said that he’s unlikely to pardon himself if he is re-elected president in 2024, even though he could have done so in 2021, according to an interview with NBC News on Thursday.
Trump is the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, as well as the defendant in four criminal proceedings in New York City, Miami, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta. He signaled that he’s unlikely to pardon himself if he returns to office, according to NBC News.
“I think it’s very unlikely. What, what did I do wrong? I didn’t do anything wrong,” Trump said. “You mean because I challenge an election, they want to put me in jail?”
#NEWS: Governor Chris Sununu on Donald #Trump saying it’s unlikely he’d pardon himself: “Of course he’d pardon himself. That’s the main reason he’s running. That is not some sort of Washington secret. Of course he would pardon himself.” pic.twitter.com/tIUDpLkIad
— RedStates (@RedStates3) September 15, 2023
Trump and his allies have maintained that his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election were constitutionally protected activities under the First Amendment. One of the indictments, issued in federal court by Special Counsel Jack Smith, concerns Trump’s alleged involvement with plans to present false slates of electors to Congress from several states, which led to the charge of “conspiracy to defraud the United States.”
Trump also maintained in the interview that he could have issued a preemptive pardon to himself in 2021, but declined to do so.
“I could have pardoned myself. I was given an option … People said, ‘Would you like to pardon yourself?’ I had a couple of attorneys that said you can do it if you want. I had some people that said it would look bad if you do it, because I think it would look terrible,” he said. “The last thing I would ever do is give myself a pardon.”
The U.S. Supreme Court, in Burdick v. United States, stated that accepting a pardon indicates guilt, even as all legal consequences of that guilt are waived. The Constitution does not place limits on the president’s power to pardons, and legal scholars have claimed that Trump may issue it to himself.
Trump also addressed the indictment of President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, on firearms charges. Trump maintained that the criminal justice system is biased against him.
“There’s no question about it. [Hunter] had a plea deal that was the deal of the century,” he said. “The art of the deal, you could write a book about it … All of a sudden that was broken up by a judge who was able to — a brilliant judge, actually — who was able to see through what was happening.”
The Department of Justice and White House Counsel’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Arjun Singh on September 15, 2023