President Trump Cannot Pardon Himself, Poll Respondents Say

Only 21 percent of voters agree with Trump that he has the 'absolute power' to pardon himself.

Trump can't pardon himself
Wong Maye-E / AP Images

Only 21 percent of voters agree with Trump that he has the 'absolute power' to pardon himself.

Donald Trump may believe, as he’s publicly said, that he has the “absolute power” to pardon anyone, including himself, but the voters don’t agree, Time is reporting.

Results from a recent Morning Consult/Politico poll show that the American voters aren’t on board with Trump’s belief that he can pardon himself. The 45th president hasn’t been charged with any crimes, as of this writing. What’s more, Trump has also said that he won’t pardon himself, even though he can, because he hasn’t done anything wrong.

“Numerous legal scholars” aside, 58 percent of American voters who responded to the poll say the president does not have the power to pardon himself, while 21 percent agree with him that he does have that right. The remaining 21 percent responded that they don’t know.

In news that should come as no surprise to anyone, there’s a much sharper split among respondents when it comes to ideological lines. Among poll respondents who self-identified as Democrats, 14 percent say the president does have the power to pardon himself, 76 percent say he does not and ten percent don’t know. Among Republicans, only 33 percent agree with their man that Trump has the power to pardon himself, 36 percent say he does not, and 32 percent don’t know. For Independents, it’s 17 percent who say the president can pardon himself, 61 percent who say he cannot, and 22 percent who say they don’t know.

The poll results break things down into further demographics including age, sex, education level and income. You can read the poll results for yourself if you follow this link (the information you’re looking for is on Page 133).

As you may have already suspected, poll results don’t actually determine whether or not the president has the power to pardon himself. That’s actually a matter of constitutional law and case law, and as it turns out, both are silent on the issue. The Constitution, unfortunately, doesn’t address the issue of whether or not the president can pardon himself. As for legal precedent, courts don’t generally rule on matters of law preemptively, and since no president has ever tried to pardon himself, no court has ruled on whether or not he can.

What we do have, however, is an opinion from the Nixon administration. In 1974, the Office Of Legal Counsel issued a memo stating that the president couldn’t pardon himself based on the legal principle that no one can be his own judge. However, that’s merely a decades-old opinion and is not a matter of legal precedent. Long story short, unless and until Donald Trump attempts to pardon himself, and that pardon is challenged in court, it will never be certain one way or the other.