Should Obama preemptively pardon Clinton? Can he?

After the election, I mean.

I don’t really think Clinton is likely to ever face criminal charges relating to her private email server, or to the Clinton Foundation or anything else. Nor do I think she should. But it’s shaping up to be a distraction that could potentially continue well after the election, with Congressional Republicans continuing to pressure the FBI to file some sort of criminal charges.

Can Obama legally pardon Clinton for any federal crimes she may have committed in the past, without specifying precisely what those crimes are or even acknowledging that any such crimes occurred?

If so, would it be smart for him to do so? Obviously not before the election, that’d probably cost her votes by appearing to be a cover-up, but afterwards? Yeah, it might hurt both Obama’s popularity and Clinton’s, but Obama’s popularity wouldn’t really matter at that point, and by the time the next election rolls around it would be old news. And in the mean time perhaps it’d mean the Congressional Republicans don’t spend the next few years doing nothing but trying to get Clinton charged with some kind of crime. (Assuming she wins, I mean. If Trump wins, I guess at least it would mean he couldn’t actually “Lock her up”.)

Or maybe they’ll spend the next four years trying to get her charged all the same, Presidential pardon be damned.

Pardoning her tacitly admits she committed a crime. That’s the kind of horrible optics that would lead to a sustained witch hunt a la Ken Starr, which would be almost guaranteed to end in impeachment and a nice little constitutional crisis. Could be interesting for the fireworks, at least, but pretty much a non-starter.

Pardoning her wouldn’t save her from impeachment (I’m pretty sure - it’s not a criminal proceeding, right?), nor from congressional investigation. It would probably give congressional Republicans more to investigate, actually: the Special Committee on the November 2016 Pardons, now in month 18 of its investigation, calls Malia Obama to testify about BHO’s conversations over the dinner table…

I really don’t see the upside, especially if (as seems likely) any actual investigation by law enforcement will turn up nothing serious.


I think he should make the speech of his presidency, decrying partisan witch-hunting and obstructionism. He should use the Benghazi bullshit as a foundation for the idea that those running the circus weren’t interested in facts at all, but went through the motions purely for political gain. There are enough quotes out there (“damage to Hillary”) and rationale to support that to anyone with marginal critical thinking skills.

The people have spoken electorally (assuming, of course, she wins). Any president could face a hostile, obstructionist congress, but a duly elected president should not face one that is hell-bent on impeachment or imprisonment for political purposes. It is fully within his purview to wield his pardon power as he sees fit — which in this case is for the benefit of the country as a whole.

Yes, he can foreshadow that the next congress (assuming it’s in R hands) will find other and new trivialities to cry OUTRAGE over, but as far as any actions she took regarding [insert far-right bullshit here], she should not have her administration tied up defending baseless claims, and the people should not suffer from purely political manoeuvring.
Optics be damned. Those to whom it will make a difference are mostly partisan/party-before-country types; there will be minimal political loss.

No, it’s a horrible idea. No matter how anyone tries to spin, it would be tantamount to an admission of guilt. It’s ugly optics from top to bottom.

Yes, he could do it. Nixon wasn’t officially charged with any specific crimes when he got his blanket pre-pardon.

Ha. Just looked up the wiki on Nixon’s pardon and it uses almost the same phrase:

Agreed. And not just because it’s horrible optics for those two, but because it’s a taint on Clinton that (until/unless proven) she does not deserve and will go down in the history books that way. Make the entire party look bad. Think how some people feel about Nixon’s pardon. And she gets to be president directly after it? Nope, nope, nope. Bad for the entire party, won’t stop GOP attacks or obstructionism, and I just don’t see upside to preemptively doing something like that unless they both know she’s be found guilty and things will go even worse.

No. She has not been convicted of any crime. You can’t pardon someone for just being accused of something.

F- 'em. If they want to keep fighting on the Benghazi and Email hills, make them work for each and every inch.

I already brought up Nixon’s pardon where he had not been convicted of a crime.

He can. OTOH it’s not clear* it would be legally valid to indict a sitting president rather than first impeach and remove her and as others mentioned a pardon doesn’t prevent impeachment and removal. So whatever you believe or think you know about either no underlying legal problem or a serious one, a pardon might only be relevant to a criminal prosecution after she leaves office. Therefore she could wait and do that herself when and if necessary** without casting a pall over her whole term upfront. So I’d say 99+% certain Obama won’t pardon Clinton…if she wins next Tuesday. If she loses, I think it’s highly likely Obama will pardon her, and the explanation given with be lack of faith in fair treatment of her by Trump’s Justice Dept.

*the argument made at the time of Watergate, though not full tested because the Watergate Grand Jury didn’t indict Nixon.
**which Nixon didn’t do, but arguably could have.

She’s an uppity woman! That can NEVER be pardoned!!!11!!!

…Yet. The difference being that in the case of Nixon, actual evidence of wrongdoing had been accumulating.

I pretty much agree with you completely about what should**** happen, but I really doubt that a pardon would make any of that happen. (Except the one sure-fire effect of a pardon - preventing indictment/imprisonment. Which is probably already gained by her being sworn in: . As noted above, untested in court.)

Even if only partisans would care about this pardon issue- all congressmembers are partisans, and congressional leaders especially so. It’s not going to quiet them down (IMHO). (I also think it’s very unlikely that we’ll get to test our respective theories:D.)