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Is there any limit on a U.S. president's power to pardon?

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U.S. President Donald Trump once joked he could "stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody" and not lose voter support. The quip was intended as hyperbole to make a point on the loyalty of his base.

Now, Trump says, he has the power to keep himself out of jail if he wanted, declaring an "absolute right to PARDON myself." This time, though, it seems he isn't joking.

But there is a big limit in the world of presidential pardons: impeachment.

A look at what's true and what's not when it comes to presidential pardons:


Under the Constitution, the president has the power to grant "reprieves and pardons" for federal (but not state) crimes, essentially wiping out a person's convictions. The power is, as Trump says, "absolute" in that pardons can't be overturned by Congress or the courts.

Almost every president has used his pardon powers, but somewhat narrowly — focusing on overturning cases when they believe a severe injustice has been done or is needed to heal partisan rifts.

President Andrew Johnson, for example, granted blanket pardons to soldiers who fought in the Confederate Army as a practical way of reuniting........

© Japan Today