Can Trump pardon Stone?

pundit…he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.–Article II, Section 2 of The Constitution


Can Trump pardon Stone? Professor Corey Brettschneider, writing for Politico, claims he can’t.

Brettschneider writes:

Many scholars agree that once a president has been impeached, he or she loses the power to pardon anyone for criminal offenses connected to the articles of impeachment. Less noticed is that even after the Senate’s failure to convict the president, he or she does not regain this power.

  1. Is Corey Brettschneider’s argument valid?
  2. Is Stone’s case a “Case of Impeachment?”
  3. Could VP Pence pardon Stone?
  4. Who would have standing to challenge a pardon in court?

There is no precedent; the Supreme Court would have to decide.


Corey Brettschneider is professor of political science at Brown University and visiting professor of law at Fordham Law School. He is the author of The Oath and the Office: A Guide To the Constitution For Future Presidents.


About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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27 Responses to Can Trump pardon Stone?

  1. D'Artagnan says:

    Suggestions for future discussions

    Does Trump’s disdain for science / firing professionals /hiring
    sycophants hamper or help the US response?

    Trump’s response to the Corona virus adequate?
    Tom Reed’s enabling of Trump’s lies.

    How Does Trump’s lack of credibility impact the coronavirus

    If we can’t respond effectively to this, how can we ever expect
    to respond effectively to the global warming crisis?

    Stock Market

    We are almost back to pre Trump levels. How does this effect
    Trump’s reelection chances?

    How does it effect Reed / Mitrano?

    How does it effect Social Security?


  2. whungerford says:

    Thanks for the suggestions. If you would like to write an article on any of them, we would consider publishing it.


  3. D'Artagnan says:

    For as long as I can remember, president Trump has lied, often and large. His entire political career has been based on lies, as was his real estate “empire”.

    In a crisis, credibility matters. Most administrations spend the good times building credibility against the time when an emergency occurs that requires faith in leadership. Trump never bothered with establishing credibility. According to the Washington Post, he has told more than 15,000 lies while in office. His lies continue today.

    His Wednesday coronavirus news conference was riddled with lies, including a whopper that everyone who needs to be tested will be tested. In fact, there is a severe shortage of coronavirus test kits. Our patient zero in California waited days to be tested, and infected an unknown number of people in the interval.

    It appears that the general public has finally caught on, if the stock market meltdown accurately indicates lack of faith in his leadership.

    Trump has been aided in his lies by the collection of sycophants with which he has surrounded himself, including Tom Reed, a staunch defender and member of Trump’s NY Republican re-election team.

    We are no longer talking in the abstract. People’s lives are at risk.

    Do Trump and Reed bear responsibility for the inevitable deaths?

    Will either Trump or Reed accept responsibility?

    When will Trump and Reed stop lying?


  4. D'Artagnan says:


    The current frontrunner for the Democratic Presidential Nomination is
    Bernie Sanders.

    Bernie Sanders is a “Democratic Socialist” and is being attacked by Trump and his lackeys as
    either a Socialist or a Communist, with dire predictions about nationalizing American manufacturing and Health Care.

    A question for the readers of this blog—What is a Democratic Socialist?


  5. D'Artagnan says:


    The current frontrunner for the Democratic Presidential Nomination is
    Bernie Sanders.

    Bernie Sanders is a “Democratic Socialist” and is being attacked as
    either a Socialist or a Communist by Trump and his lackeys with dire predictions about the Nationalization of American industry and American Healthcare.

    A question for the readers of this blog—What is a Democratic Socialist?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. whungerford says:

    I suppose a Democratic Socialist favors government action to address social problems in the public interest.


  7. Gary A. McCaslin says:

    Constitutional scholars may agree but after three years of the Apprentice as President, I will not be surprised to hear the words: “Frankly Supremes… I don’t give a damn!” And rest assured, Stone will not be the only attempted pardon.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Gary A. McCaslin says:

    From the website:
    Democratic socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few. To achieve a more just society, many structures of our government and economy must be radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy so that ordinary Americans can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives.

    Democracy and socialism go hand in hand. All over the world, wherever the idea of democracy has taken root, the vision of socialism has taken root as well—everywhere but in the United States.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Richelieu says:

    Trump Quotes on Coronavirus:

    February 10:
    Trump: “A lot of people think that goes away in April, with the heat that comes in,”

    February 27:
    Trump:”“It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear,” Trump said. “And from our shores, we — you know, it could get worse before it gets better. It could maybe go away. We’ll see what happens. Nobody really knows.”

    President Trump and HHS Secretary Azar, “The risk is very low.”

    “The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus,” he said from a campaign rally in North Charleston, South Carolina. “This is their new hoax.”
    “And, as you know, with the flu, on average, we lose from 26,000 to 78,000 people a year — even more than that, in some cases, some years. We haven’t lost anybody yet,” he told reporters. “And hopefully, we can keep that intact. We — there have been no deaths in the United States at all.”

    “And again, when you have 15 people — and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero — that’s a pretty good job we’ve done,” he said.

    Today, sadly, the first American died from the virus.

    Six ways Trump has botched the crisis:
    1. Sick and healthy passengers from a quarantined cruise ship were sent on the same flight home.
    2. Despite telling Americans to get tested for the virus, US health agencies are behind the eight-ball with testing lagging behind.
    3. A coronavirus patient in California wasn’t tested for days.
    4. CDC testing has been limited, so the full extent of the virus stateside is hard to pin down.
    5. On top of all that, Trump has made funding cuts to the CDC over the past two years.
    6. A US patient infected with the coronavirus was accidentally released from the hospital after initial tests failed to pick up symptoms.

    Is everyone feeling safe with Trump’s leadership?
    The virus kills elderly people who already have health issues: diabetes, heart issues, respiratory issues….and others.
    Does everyone feel well?


  10. josephurban says:

    Since Trump was not convicted I assume he continues to hold all the powers of the presidency. He can pardon anyone he wants. Had he been convicted it would be a different story.


  11. josephurban says:

    Why is anyone surprised that the mentally ill president would screw up any crisis?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Athos says:

    There is an arc that every country that ever was follows: a beginning, a middle and an end. No country escapes it.

    Rome followed that arc. The Roman Republic was founded around 510 BCE. It lasted nearly 500 Years before being supplanted by the Roman Empire in 27 BCE. The Empire consisted of the countries bordering the Mediterranean and actually extended into Britain. Hadrian’s wall was built along the width of the island to keep those darned barbarians from attacking.

    Historians argue about when the Empire went into decline, why this occurred, and could it have been prevented.

    I’ve lived long enough to see historic events repeat, even ones that I never thought I would see. The current coronavirus is an eerie echo of the Spanish flu of 1918.

    I think we are seeing history repeat the previously mentioned arc in the good ole US of A. When historians examine our republic in the future, they will surely discuss and argue about our decline. When it started, what caused it, can any one event be seen as a marker?

    One event will probably stand out as part of the end of the American experiment. A recent one, that flew under the radar… but one that portends seismic change in our republic.

    Last Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. overruled a lower court decision, and said that former White House Counsel Don McGahn didn’t have to obey a congressional subpoena to appear before the House. House Democrats subpoenaed him because they want to find out what he told former Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

    The 2-1 ruling, written by Thomas Griffith, a George W. Bush appointee, basically says it was not up to the judicial branch to referee a food fight between the legislative branch and the executive branch. Actually, many people think that the judiciary is precisely the entity that has to settle disputes between the other branches of government. Griffith suggested that if Congress wants the president to allow his former staffers to testify, it can negotiate with him or use its other powers, such as cutting off funding, holding up confirmations, or even impeaching him. Of course, when the president’s party controls the Senate and is in lock-step with him, all those weapons are moot.

    The case will next go to the Supreme Court. If the High Court rules, even 5-4, to sustain the appeals court ruling, that means that Congress has basically lost its subpoena power forever. No future House will be able to investigate any future president, even when it suspects the president has committed an impeachable offense.

    The Founding Parents are no doubt all rolling over in their graves. They clearly envisioned Congress as the primary branch of government, giving it the sole power to pass laws, to levy taxes, to appropriate government funds, to impose tariffs, and to ratify treaties with foreign nations. The president’s job was to see that the laws Congress passed were carried out. If Congress loses the subpoena power, and with it much of its ability to be a check on the executive, it will be a shadow of its former self.

    Now we must wait for the Supreme Court. Would anyone like speculate on the outcome?

    Perhaps this is how our country ends. Not with a bang, but with a whisper.

    It took fewer than 250 years for Ben Franklin to have his answer as to whether we could keep our Republic.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. whungerford says:

    Joseph, Professor Corey Brettschneider notes that if the power to pardon was restricted only on removal, it would be moot. A removed President couldn’t pardon anyone.

    Athos, the courts have long been reluctant to intervene in disputes between the legislature and the executive. Congress has carelessly delegated so many of its powers to the executive, that it has itself to blame for its present weakness.


  14. whungerford says:

    Some powers Congress has failed to effectively assert:

    • Power to declare war.
    • Constitutional limitation on emoluments.
    • Power of the purse.
    • Power to compel testimony and to review documents.
    • Power to withhold consent to appointments.
    • Power to impeach and remove from office.

    It seems unreasonable to expect the courts to do for Congress what it could do for itself.


  15. josephurban says:

    Athos. We are certainly seeing an erosion of power and centralization of power in the hands of the GOP. Through the courts. By suppressing votes. By the Senate refusal to do their job. But there is a solution. The question is: Has the GOP effectively undermined elections to be able to once again steal the presidency. I think it will take a massive Dem turnout to overcome voter suppression. It’s up to young people to get off their butts for one hour and go vote. We shall see. (Advertisement: You might find my blog interesting: )

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Athos says:


    The GOP has been up to its mischief for decades. See Richard Nixon/GOP/Southern Strategy. Reference Lee Atwater…adviser to Reagan and GHW Bush. See Karl Rove…Dick Cheney. And those are only the ones that immediately come to mind.

    Emasculating the courts, suppressing votes, keeping the GOP and later the Trumpers in lockstep in the Senate are not recent developments. They’ve been happening for decades! Experience and testing has allowed them to become incredibly effective for Trump. And as you appear to be as much of a geezer as I am, I can safely say that it happened on our watch.

    Global warming happened on our watch. Warnings started in earnest in the 70s. Our watch.

    Sixth extinction happened and continues on our watch. Warnings started decades ago. Our watch.

    Iraq. Our watch.

    Afghanistan. Our watch.

    Expansion of the Military Industrial Complex. Our watch. Despite Eisenhower’s warning.

    and so on….

    My opinion is that we have left today’s young people quite a mess because WE did not do our jobs. WE bear the responsibility and WE should be held accountable. Fortunately, we will probably escape after enjoying privileged lives by aging out.

    The youth of today really hit the jackpot: high student loans, destroyed environment, high pharmaceutical prices and medical care, a giant national deficit AND they get to contribute to Social Security which it is likely they will never see. AND as a bonus, global warming gifts them with storms of biblical magnitude.

    No wonder ‘OK Boomer’ is a popular meme.

    Look at the demographic supporting Trump. OUR cohort!

    With that background, I find your comment about young people to ‘get off their butts for one hour and go vote’ to be inappropriate. How about geezers stepping up for a change?

    Moving on….

    I’m guessing that a best case in your mind is a Democratic landslide, fueled by the young FINALLY getting off of their butts and finally doing the right thing.

    Let’s consider that for a moment. The presidency, both houses of congress, governorships, state and local governments ALL become white knight democrats. You and all the other well meaning people get your wish.

    What happens then?

    First, as recent events have proven, herding cats is easier than getting Democrats to agree. How will they govern when a majority of the dems disagree so often and so loudly?

    Second, where does Trump go? Does he go quietly? HA

    Third, what happens with 43% of our country? The dittoheads have had a taste. Think they go away quietly?

    Fourth, the Trumpers have proven they are effective (much more so than Democrats) in unity. Do you think a Trumpist party minority won’t throw many and large wrenches in the works?

    Fifth. The damage Trump and the Trumpists have done to the Republic is largely irreversible. Corrections will require more than legislation alone. Ececutive orders will be the rule of the day

    Sixth. When that happens, what will distinguish the USA from a banana republic, ruled by the loudest mob?

    And this is the best case.

    Good Times!


  17. whungerford says:

    I mostly agree, but seniors do vote disproportionally, and that is part of the problem.


  18. Athos says:

    The Republican game plan, when it comes to federal money, has been pretty clear since at least the Newt Gingrich years (maybe even the Reagan years):

    Cut taxes on the rich/corporations aggressively, triggering a budget crisis
    Point out that the budget is unsustainable
    Cut entitlement programs to “fix” the problem

    Rinse and repeat as necessary.

    Trump / Reed’s tax cut plan was supposed to juice the economy so much that it would pay for itself. Annual GDP growth of 5% was promised. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act put millions in the hands of corporations, while giving crumbs to the 99%. Reed never stopped saying that entitlements will need to be addressed in the future.

    Then Trump’s trade wars decimated American Farmers. They were bailed out with federal funds that dwarfed the amount Obama gave to the auto industry after the 2008 meltdown. An analysis of the farmer bailout shows that most of the money went to corporate farms. Family farms received the leftovers. Reed never stopped saying that entitlements will need to be addressed in the future.

    Today, the White House is is considering tax relief for airline, travel, and cruise industries hurt by coronavirus. I am quite sure that Reed will continue to say that entitlements will need to be addressed in the future. Doubtless a bailout to the corporate tourist industry will need to be paid for on the backs of working men and women.

    Who is to blame for this mess? Is it immoral politicians like Reed and Trump who count on the utter stupidity / apathy of the American voter?

    Or is it the American voter?

    Liked by 1 person

  19. whungerford says:

    The voter is to blame in my opinion. When we elect corrupt representatives, we can expect corruption.

    The party with the highest standards must clean up the mess. Republicans can balloon the deficit with crazy tax cuts and dare a Democratic Administration to raise taxes to fix it. Even today with the deficit soaring, they advocate further cuts. It is a devilish plan.


  20. Porthos says:

    Dana Milbank
    Washington Post
    March 6, 2020 at 5:02 p.m. EST

    Do you have a nagging medical concern? A rash that won’t go away? Unexplained hearing loss? Are you currently bleeding out from a severed femoral artery?

    Well, fret no more. America now has a leading medical expert — some say the best — who will dispense diagnoses and prognoses to all — for free! This bold new telemedicine initiative, “Ask Dr. Trump,” will be offered on an unpredictable but highly frequent basis to all Americans (whether they like it or not).

    The latest updates on the coronavirus

    Dr. Donald J. Trump, of course, is the pioneering scientist who first determined that climate change is a hoax and, more recently, discovered that windmills cause cancer. In between, he proved that forest fires could be contained by “raking” and identified a previously unrecognized tropical cyclone pattern targeting Alabama.

    Dr. Trump acquired what he calls “a natural instinct for science” not through formal education but because “my uncle was a great professor at MIT for many years.” Sadly, the elder Trump didn’t live to see his nephew’s greatest discoveries in the medical field: The flu shot is basically “injecting bad stuff into your body” and exercise can shorten your life. Dr. Trump used his instinctive grasp of medicine to become “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency” with an innate life expectancy of 200 years.

    To the relief of millions, this extremely stable genius has turned to the challenge of solving the novel coronavirus, or as Dr. Trump spells it in the Latin, “Caronavirus.” Early on in the outbreak, Dr. Trump was among the first to determine that the virus “miraculously goes away” in April. Dr. Trump’s pathbreaking epidemiology enabled him to determine that the World Health Organization’s report that 3.4 percent of “reported” cases of the virus have died is a “false number.” Trump’s research, based extensively on “my hunch,” puts the true figure at “way under 1 percent.”

    Related research by Dr. Trump found spread of the virus is not “inevitable,” that cases in the United States are “going very substantially down” — and that they “are all getting better.” This informed Dr. Trump’s reclassification of the coronavirus as a “new hoax” by Democrats — though he later clarified that the illness itself was not the hoax, only Democrats’ attempts to blame him.

    In fact, Dr. Trump’s DNA research has determined that neither he nor bats nor pangolins caused the virus’s spread but rather President Barack Obama. “The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing,” Trump disclosed, a finding that eluded experts.

    Given the reduced virulence that Dr. Trump discovered, he concluded there could be “hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work” — though he “NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work.” But even if they did, Dr. Trump’s pharmaceutical advances have put us “very close to a vaccine,” within “months” — about a year ahead of other experts’ forecasts.

    This breakthrough is possible because while other medical authorities have classified coronavirus as “novel,” Dr. Trump has determined that “this is a flu” and he renamed it the “corona flu.” Therefore he suspects that “a solid flu vaccine” would have efficacy, and “we’ll essentially have a flu shot for this.”

    Now that Dr. Trump has beaten the virus and sent the sick back to work, it would be a tragedy to waste his medical expertise. Hence, the demand for an “Ask Dr. Trump” column, which should go something like this:

    A reader asks: Dr. Trump, the left side of my body has gone numb and immobile. What should I do?

    Dr. Trump replies: If you are healthy, you will probably go through a process and you’ll be fine.

    A reader asks: Dr. Trump, I am experiencing chest pains and shortness of breath. Should I call 911?

    Dr. Trump replies: It’s very seasonal. It’s like a flu. And it is a little bit different, but in some ways it’s easier and in some ways it’s a little bit tougher. But we have it so well under control.

    A reader asks: Dr. Trump, my mother is in a persistent vegetative state. Should I continue life support?

    Dr. Trump replies: That’s a problem that’s going to go away. People get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work.

    A reader asks: Dr. Trump, we’ve got a mass casualty situation at the ER. Can you advise us on triage?

    Dr. Trump replies: When somebody sneezes — I mean, I try to bail out as much as possible. Hey — did you get a flu shot?

    Liked by 1 person

  21. whungerford says:

    So what’s the explanation? Do many not recognize the real Donald Trump in Milbank’s caricature, or rather believe that Trump’s gut is omniscient and omnipotent? There is evidence for the later–Reagan relied on his horoscope, GWB on the seat of his pants, and we went along with that.


  22. Richelieu says:

    There’s not a lot of diversity in contributors / responders here, is there?


  23. whungerford says:

    As Rich Stewart noted: “Even though I lean left I enjoy a good political discussion, and want to hear all sides.”


  24. Aramis says:

    This is a blog for 2 then?


  25. Richelieu says:

    Woul any reader / contributor of this blog care to offer their insight on Trump vs Mazars and/or Trump vs Deutche Bank?


  26. josephurban says:

    When you have gerrymandering and voter suppression, along with a propaganda machine called Fox News, it is hard for me to blame the “voter”. In 6 of the last 7 elections the “voter” voted for the more liberal candidate and liberal policies. Don’t blame the victims.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. whungerford says:

    Yet who but the voters are responsible for gerrymandering and voter suppression? Many must be at best indifferent when our representatives enact such measures. No one is required to watch Fox News. The Electoral College may stand in the way of majority rule, but as Joseph himself noted, we must play by the rules–de facto or de jure.


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