Help settle a debate: Can the president pardon his own son if his son gets into trouble?

The other limit on the Presidential pardon is that it only applies to federal crimes.

And yet people are charged with assault every day. Indicating that you CAN go up and punch someone, but there may be consequences.

Which was my point.

What about all the people pardoned during their second terms but before election day. Why don’t they count?

It’s not worth arguing about. What if I said presidents can and have saved controversial pardons for the end of their terms? The point is they can wait until they don’t have to face the political consequences. And then I said Trump may not wait. Quite famously, Ford didn’t wait to pardon Nixon.

GWB pardoned Scooter for the crime of outing a CIA agent (or IIRC, Obstruction for lying about it). Ford pardoned Nixon for anything that he might be charged with before there was even charges filed. In both cases, there was a small outcry but nothing near impeachment grade grumbling.

So let’s get real. Unless little Trump committed out and out willful treason (something on the level of “we’ll lift the sanctions if you stuff the ballot boxes”) there won’t be impeachment, certainly not for a short unproductive meeting with a Russian lawyer or for Jared for failing to correctly fill in his sworn statement for security (over and over).

But yes, Trump could issue a blanket pardon to any everyone to pre-empt charges, including his own family. Recusing oneself for conflict of interest is a guideline in this sort of situation, not a legal requirement. There are only a few specific situations where conflicts of interest recusal is mandatory - usually having to do with lawyers, not politicians. Heck, you can claim to recuse yourself and stay head of the investigating committee IIRC.

Methinks you need to distinguish between “can” and “can legally.”

You can punch someone in the nose and even if you’re charged with assault their nose was still punched. Likewise, Trump can pardon someone and even if Trump is removed from office that person is still pardoned.

Sometime SDMB poster Professor Kalt suggests that the POTUS cannot pardon himself, for example. Note: Pardon Me?: The Constitutional Case Against Presidential Self-Pardons, 106 Yale L.J. 779.

Is it even a guideline or just something that random people say should be a guideline when there’s a pardon they don’t like? Judges are supposed to impartially weigh a case in front of them, so recusing themselves for being involved makes sense. But pardons aren’t even in theory supposed to be impartial, so I don’t think that applies. There have been a number of pardons of relatives by presidents and governors in the past.

Ford pardoned Nixon before Nixon had been charged with anything. Is this really legitimate? Suppose Carter’s AG had charged Nixon with obstruction in 1977. Would Ford’s pardon have had legal effect?

Yes. If you’re unsure, ask a few thousand draft dodgers who were pardoned before being charged with anything.

Yes, the courts have examined the question and there’s no requirement that someone already be charged with a crime for a pardon to be effective. It runs against the basic idea of pardons if a prosecutor can just wait to charge someone until the current president is out of office to avoid the president pardoning them.

How many are those?

The constitution says the president can pardon “…for offenses against the United States”. It doesn’t lay out that there needs to be charges already, or even that the pardon must enumerate specific crimes. The only real argument I can see is that it is “for offenses” which presumably could be argued that the offense(s) must have already occurred, i.e. no get out of jail for life free card.

Lots. Too many to bother to count. I gave the links to the lists if you want to do it and report back.

You’re the one who said it was important to consider that number, so I thought you’d want to present facts.

My fact is that there are an absurdly huge number of people in the intervals left out. Just eyeballing the lists in the links I gave is enough to disprove the notion that presidents wait until the ends of their terms.

Now how about answering the question I asked and you ignored? Why did you leave out that incredibly large number of names? What point do you think you were making?

I put in some effort to actually count the most extreme cases - first term versus very end of last term, and presented actual numbers that generally show that at least two presidents were much less likely to use pardons in their first term. I then carefully said that Tripolar is not 100% accurate on his statement about waiting until the end of the President’s last term, but the numbers I counted do seem to show in two cases that Presidents are not eager to pardon early in their terms.

If you want to argue that there are more pardons not considered in my quick count,l that occurred after a President has been reelected, but is not a textbook lame duck, I respond to you that I think your nitpicking supports the general case that Presidents tend to delay pardons until later in their terms, likely for political reasons.

Bill Clinton pardoned his brother Roger, and while the pardon was controversial, it was so since evidently Roger had lobbied on behalf of other pardon seekers, not because of the relationship.

So there is precedent for close relationship pardon.

Contarary to what some poster said above, Bush did not pardon Libby, he gave him a reprieve, i.e reduced sentence. Same way Obama gave a reprieve of the sentence given to Bradley Manning (now Chelsea Manning). In each case the conviction stood but the punishment was reduced.