Power of Presidential Pardons

[Note] For the purposes of this question, I am making a couple of assumptions. I do not believe that these events will come to pass, but, in any case, their likelihood is not the subject. For fun, I want to play conspiracy theorist, 'k? I appreciate, in advance, your answers [/note]

Ok, let’s say, for the sake of argument, that the current President (otUS) knows he is guilty of some crimes. Furthermore, congress is now begining the impeachment process. Let’s also throw in that the Vice-president is guilty of the same (or similar crimes) and is also expected to be impeached.

Now, the Prez and the VP, being best of buds, are not so good buddies that they want to share an 8x8 cell. They have a contingency plan. The impeachment process looks like it is coming to an end, and it’s not looking good for the dynamic duo. Someone on the inside (a congresscritter) who is somehow close to the Prez, and is in on the contingency plan sends a coded message that reads like “the chair, and table, and bookcase, and everydamnthing are against the wall.” Thus, the contingency plan is enacted before the final acts of the impeachment process have a chance to play out.

It goes like this: The President writes out an official Presidential Pardon for every illegeal act the VP has ever done. The Prez immediately resigns. The new Prez, being such good friends with the ex-Prez immediately wirtes a new Pardon for the old Prez. Since the pardons specifically mention crimes committed during the current voting term, the new Prez now also resigns.

All hell breaks loose. The public and the congresscritters are foaming at the mouth. (Well, moreso than usual, anyway.) Everyone wants blood. Someone’s goin down!, they say.

The question: Will someone actually go down? Are the powers of the Presidential Pardons such that That’s it. It’s a wrap, folks. Go home.? Assuming there were no crimes left off of the pardons, are the two walking away scott-free?

Conspiracy theorizing is fun! Next: can congress vote itself “voted in for life” :wink:

The power of pardon is unreviewable. So in your hypothetical, the former POTUS and VPOTUS are off the hook for any crimes they were pardoned for. They can still be removed from office, but you have them resigning anyway.

But I think it would be very difficult for the President to pardon someone for “every illegal act they have ever done”. If the dynamic duo has commited so many crimes, they’re sure to have forgotten some of them.

And even if the pardon is complete enought, simply avoiding going to jail isn’t much of a comfort.

Correct. In fact, something very like it happened after Watergate. Spiro Agnew resigned as Vice President under cloud of, IIRC, fraud and peculation charges dating back to his time as Mayor of Baltimore. President Richard Nixon appointed Gerald Ford, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, in his place. Then, under the pressure of Watergate, Nixon resigned, and Ford, believing (or saying so) that the country needed to put the Watergate constitutional crisis behind it, issued Nixon a full pardon for whatever crimes he may have committed.

And Nixon, having been pardoned and having resigned to escape impeachment, never stood trial.

Is a pardon limited to known crimes? Suppose in the scenario of the OP, the Vice President reveals in his autobiography that he was the Zodiac Killer. Has he already been pardoned for those crimes even though nobody knew he had done them?

There are two points worth keeping in mind here.

First, a head of state can grant pardons only for crimes against the sovereign state that he or she heads. Thus, the President of the United States can grant a pardon for a crime violating federal law, but not for a crime that violates only state law. A governor (in those states where the governor is the pardoning authority) can grant a pardon for a crime violating that state’s law, but not for a crime that violates federal law or another state’s law. The Zodiac crimes, for example, are state-law crimes, and a Presidential pardon would not cover them.

Second, a pardon doesn’t insulate an officeholder from impeachment:

Thus if the President pardoned the Vice President for a federal crime, then resigned, the former VP-turned-President would still be subject to impeachment for the crime notwithstanding the pardon.

No. In fact, President Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon covered “all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9,1974.” The wording was so broad and so vague because Ford wanted it to totally halt any criminal investigation into Nixon’s conduct during his Presidency:

A more exciting (ironic, counterintuitive) variation. Assuming these are all federal crimes:

Prez pardons himself and VP. Stays in office (subject to impeachment–assuming we are talking about impeachable offenses).

Thank you all for your responses.

That’s kinda what I thought for some reason. That’s why I imagined the original VP resigning, as well.

Since the only two possible outcomes of an impeachment trial are acquital or removal from office, the worst that can happen to the Prez is that he gets involuntarily resigned anyway.

Nitpick: Spiro’s woes related to when he was governor of Maryland. Cite.

As for the OP, I agree that this strategy works. Stuff happens. Then they’ll write a couple of books and make millions. Who said life is fair?