The President's authority to grant pardons is specifically set forth in the U.S. Constitution as follows: "[H]e shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment." It has been construed broadly, applying even to cases in which no charges have been filed. The most notable example, of course, is President Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon. Whether a President may pardon himself for his own crimes is unclear. Also, the pardon power, by its own language, has no application to state offences. Unfortunately, Donald Trump has made a mockery of even this admittedly broad power. He has granted far fewer pardons (94) than Barack Obama (1,927) before him. But Trump has used his power to reward political allies, including corrupt politicians. He has ignored Department of Justice policy, opening the door to influence peddlers who are collecting large fees.
In one instance, a Rudy Giuliani associate is alleged to have demanded a $2 million fee for securing a pardon, although Giuliani has denied this claim.
On Wednesday, Trump is expected to release his final list of pardons. It could extend to Steve Bannon, who is among those who promoted the often debunked notion that Trump lost the Presidential election as a result of voter fraud. It could also include Rudy Giuliani, his children and himself.
So much for draining the swamp.