I beg your pardon? How can POTUS pardon someone who’s not been charged with a crime?

For all that Hillary Clinton has undeniably performed actions that are in violation of the law – actions that would have seen me in jail in a matter of hours, had I done a tenth of what she did – the fact of the matter is that, to date, no criminal charges have been made against her. So, what’s the deal with this?

A New York lawyer appealed to President Obama Wednesday in an opinion piece to pardon former-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and others who may be “potential targets” of an investigation into the use of her private email server.

Robert Begleiter, a partner at Constantine Cannon LLP and former assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York, wrote in The Daily News that the Constitution permits a president to pardon someone who has not been charged with a crime.

Yeah? I think I’d like a second opinion on that one. Let’s start with what “pardon” means, shall we? Merriam-Webster defines it as, “the excusing of an offense without exacting a penalty <offered a pardon to the draft evader>,” or “a :  a release from the legal penalties of an offense;   b :  an official warrant of remission of penalty <a royal pardon later released him from a death sentence — American Guide Series: Maryland>.” 

In other words, the term “pardon” and “Get Out of Jail Free Card” are not synonymous. If you’re issuing a pardon then you’re excusing an offense. If I’m to understand all of the blather of the last several months, Hillary Clinton didn’t do anything wrong. Ergo, no offense. Ergo, no pardon.

Given Obama’s latest actions in swinging his executive power around it doesn’t surprise me that someone is urging him to just keep going and abuse the power of his office to let someone who is guilty of a crime skate untouched. No power of the President is absolute and this situation is one where he needs to get some pushback. He can pardon someone charged with a crime. He cannot immunize someone from the penalties of their lawless actions. And if he tries, we should take that to the Supreme Court.

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