How quickly can a president pardon/be impeached.

So I don’t actually think this would happen, but I have a scenario in my mind where the final votes in the senate impeachment hearings are taking place, and have the 67 votes needed to remove Trump from office, but before the final gavel hits Trump tweets out “I hereby pardon Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and myself of all crimes.”

Would that work? Or is there more involved in having this order carried out. Also would his removal occur immediately at the end of the trial? Or would there be a delay.

PS: I know that impeachment is not synonymous with being removed from office, but it makes for a snappier thread title.

My understanding (and this is unstated in the Senate Rules) is that the officer is removed from office upon a pronouncement of a guilty verdict on any article of impeachment. Look at Rule 23. There may be a little lag between the vote and the pronouncement especially if there is a motion to ban that person from future Federal office.
So yes, the President could see what the vote is and in the seconds between the announcement of the vote and the pronouncement of the guilty verdict could pardon anyone. The real question then is what steps must a President go through to make it a legal pardon and can that be done in the time allowed. Let’s assume all the necessary paperwork has been filled out. What has to happen for it to be a pardon?

Plus, any argument over timing would end up in the Supreme Court, I assume.

There is a formal process for pardons that is fairly lengthy. What usually happens is that someone contacts the Department of Justice and applies for a pardon. This application is then reviewed, and the DOJ makes a recommendation to the President regarding the pardon.

While this is a fairly lengthy process, it is only followed by convention, and is not necessary for a pardon to occur. The Constitution gives the President the power to pardon, but does not give any requirements or procedures that must be followed.

Trump pardoned Sheriff Arpaio in 2017, and did not follow the above procedure at all to do so. There was a document that was signed, so presumably if the document was prepared in advance, the pardon could be executed as quickly as the President could sign it.

Could the President scribble out an order to pardon on the back of a napkin and sign it while sitting through the impeachment vote? I am definitely not a legal expert, but given that the Constitution does not have any procedural requirements whatsoever, I don’t see why a scribble on the back of a napkin wouldn’t count.

Would a tweet count? Probably not, given that a tweet could easily come from a staffer and you would have a hard time proving that it actually came from the President.

Presumably to be legal a pardon would have to be typed/written and signed. I suppose in the case of a verbal pardon, then again - call the Supremes. But then, I also assume a pardon requires some nuanced legal language to ensure what it covers and what is intended to be pardoned. (“Did he mean granting a pardon as in pardoned by the president or as in I beg your pardon”?) I wonder if the legal concept “too vague to be valid” applies to a blanket pardon.

I’m sure that this has been discussed on this board before, but the president’s power to pardon does not include impeachment, whether he can pardon himself or not.

So then the interesting argument (which could hit the Supreme Court) is whether that limit means he can’t pardon impeachment offense i.e. stop the person form being removed from office by impeachment, or whether he cannot pardon criminal offense cases that also involved impeachment. For the latter interpretation, Nixon could be pardoned because his impeachment never reached a Senate trial.

Nixon’s impeachment never even reached an impeachment. The House was drawing up the articles, and almost certainly had the votes for them, but they didn’t get a chance to actually vote before he resigned.

Once Nixon resigned, impeachment wasn’t a factor. Well, technically I suppose he could have been impeached to make sure he couldn’t run for president again but I think he was already ineligible since he had served the majority of his second term. The pardon was to prevent criminal prosecution for the offenses, something that impeachment doesn’t deal with.

Nixon could (in principle) also have been impeached to prevent him from holding any other office. In principle, right up until his death, he could have been elected as a Senator, or appointed to the Cabinet or the Supreme Court, or held any of the other multitude of positions in the government.

But, of course, the House made the political calculation that, with his resignation, it was best just to drop the matter.

Nitpick -Nixon wasn’t ineligible to run again because he served the majority of his 2nd term (he hadn’t - he only served 1 and a half years of a 4 year term). He was ineligible because he was already elected twice. What your thinking of is the rule that someone can be elected twice, IF they have served less than 2 years of someone else’s term (e.g., LBJ was eligible to be elected in 1964 and 1968 because he only served slightly over a year of the remainder of JFK’s term).

Yeah, I’m not sure we’re talking about pardoning himself from impeachment. That clearly can’t happen.

But while President, he pardons himself from the criminal offenses that got him impeached in the first place. That’d be an interesting day.

Of course, it just means the AG of NY gets a free pass at dreaming up some charge. Or some other state. Or even Washington, DC. I’m pretty certain there’s a guy wouldn’t mind taking a swing.

It can’t be the District of Columbia, because that is a federal district, and even ordinary crimes (not otherwise “federal” crimes) are prosecuted in the name of the federal government. Thus a Presidential pardon would encompass crimes under the local laws of DC.

Exactly. Impeachment is not a criminal conviction. It’s being removed from office. A pardon would have no effect on it.

In fact, the Constitution specifically says that presidential pardons do not affect impeachment.

That was my point/question about Nixon. If the case reaches impeachment, does that (under one interpretation of the constitution clause) mean that neither the impeachment nor the related criminal case could be pardoned, or just that a presidential pardon was not possible to forestall or excuse just the impeachment procedure and consequences, but could pardon the related criminal case?

If it was a state crime, the pardon would have no effect on either the impeachment or the consequences of the state crime. If it were something that wasn’t a crime (“Be it resolved that President X is impeached for offenses against the dignity of the United States, to wit, wearing plaid and stripes together”) it would have no effect on the impeachment and there wouldn’t be anything else for it to affect.

If it was a federal crime, it would have no effect on the impeachment. It has not been determined what effect it would have on the consequences of the federal crime.


What does it matter? Unless he’s credibly accused of Child Pornography, Pence will do it for him. No way does Trump go away for any federal crime.