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Donald Trump: Can the president pardon himself and his family? | World News

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Donald Trump: Can the president pardon himself and his family? | World News

Donald Trump has pardoned several of his closest confidantes over the past month, and has previously asserted he has the “absolute right” to do the same for himself.

The 45th president is said to have discussed pardoning himself and his family, asking his aides what effect it would have on him legally and politically, two White House sources told the New York Times.

Sky News examines whether Mr Trump can pardon himself and his family members ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration on 20 January.

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Impeachment bid ‘a terrible thing’ – Trump

Professor Michael Gerhardt, a law professor at the University of North Carolina, who testified as a constitutional expert at Mr Trump’s 2019 impeachment proceedings, has provided some expert analysis.

How do presidential pardons work?

A president can pardon an individual at any point, including before a person is charged with a crime.

This means they can be protected from prosecution as a pardon gives them legal immunity from criminal liability.

However, a court would have to rule whether to accept if that pardon is valid.

For those who have already been found guilty of committing a crime a presidential pardon means they are off the hook.

However, a president can only pardon federal crimes so anyone pardoned can still be prosecuted by any of the 50 states.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 07:  Former Trump Campaign aide George Papadopoulos arrives with his wife Simona Mangiante at the U.S. District Court for his sentencing hearing September 7, 2018 in Washington, DC. Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty last year for making a "materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statement" to investigators during FBI..s probe of Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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Mr Trump granted a full pardon to his campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty as part of the investigation into Russian meddling of the 2016 election

Can a president pardon himself?

The constitution is not 100% clear on this, and it is not something another president has attempted before.

Prof Gerhardt said: “There is a division of opinion on whether a president can pardon himself, but slightly more think he cannot.

“I do not think the president does have the power to pardon himself.

“First, if you look at the constitutional language, the president isn’t given the power to pardon, he’s given the power to grant a pardon.

“To grant, when the constitution was written, and now, means to give someone else the power to be pardoned – that doesn’t mean to grant himself something.

“I take that as the president can’t grant himself anything.

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Impeachment bid ‘a terrible thing’ – Trump

“Secondly, if we just look at the overall purpose of the constitution and its structure, the framers rebelled against a king and it makes no sense whatsoever to look at it and say they would want that, there’s no indication that they intended to create a king or give the president the power to raise himself above the law.

“The people placed him in power, there are mechanisms in the constitution to address his behaviour in office.

“But, there’s nothing that suggests he’s the one person in the States that can raise himself above the people.”

But, will Mr Trump try to pardon himself?

“I’m sure he will try and he may well do it,” Prof Gerhardt said.

“I’ve heard that people in the White House are urging him to not do it, but he likes to do things people tell him not to.”

Would that be an admission of guilt?

“Yes, I think so,” said Prof Gerhardt.

“If someone is given a pardon, in accepting that pardon the person implicitly acknowledges their guilt.

“If he proceeds to pardon his family, they’re acknowledging their guilt.”

Can Mr Trump pardon his family?

Yes. Just as he has pardoned some of his aides and associates, Mr Trump can pardon his family. Several, including his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, and his son Eric Trump, have worked very closely with him during his term.

Prof Gerhardt added: “He will say that it is to protect them from Biden and the Democrats.

“In fact, it is because they have been self-dealing and breaking laws left and right, which he does not want them to be held accountable for.”

Eric, Ivanka and Donald Trump were all criticised by Maryanne Trump Barry in the recordings
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Mr Trump’s children, Eric (L), Ivanka and Donald Jr have all worked closely with their father during his presidency

Can Joe Biden pardon Mr Trump when he becomes president?

Yes, he can. Gerald Ford, when he became president, pardoned Richard Nixon for any crimes he might have committed as president, in particular covering his actions during the Watergate scandal.

Mr Ford said he felt it was in the best interests of the country and the Nixon family’s situation was “a tragedy in which we all have played a part. It could go on and on and on”.

(Original Caption) President Nixon, in a nationally televised address 8/15, asks for support against "those who would exploit Watergate in order to keep us from doing what we were elected to do." He also proclaimed his innocence of any complicity in the affair. Nixon posed for still photographers after the address, as no pictures were permitted during the telecast.
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Richard Nixon was given a presidential pardon by Gerald Ford

But, Prof Gerhardt thinks it is unlikely Mr Biden would do the same for Mr Trump.

“That’s going to be a political choice, it’s not unthinkable for Biden to give Trump a pardon to put the whole mess behind us.

“But, I think he’s unlikely to, I think he’s likely to take the position that ‘Trump’s not my responsibility so, however the chips fall for Trump is really his doing and I’m not a party to that’.”

What happens if Mr Trump does pardon himself?

Prof Gerhardt said: “If the president does pardon himself then that may end up before the Supreme Court as it’s likely that a federal prosecutor will go after Trump for some illegality during his time in office.”

Would pardoning himself get Mr Trump out of being impeached?

No. The constitution is very clear, it says: “He [the president] shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”

Prof Gerhardt added that there is no question what he did to incite violence at the Capitol is an impeachable offence.

“Every scholar that has integrity would agree this is impeachable so we don’t even get into the business of whether this is impeachable,” he said.

“This is like driving 100mph in a school zone when you can only drive 25mph – it’s so obvious.”

He added that it does not matter that he will have left office by the time the proceedings start, “as there is precedent”.

And he said the reason for the Democrats impeaching him is “to put on the record yet another mark for Trump, for all of history”.

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Daniel Pearl murder: British-born man acquitted over journalist’s killing to be released from Pakistan prison | World News

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An appeal hearing in the Daniel Pearl murder case was held at the Supreme Court, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. The court on Thursday has ordered the release of Ahmad Saeed Omar Sheikh who was convicted and later acquitted in the gruesome beheading of American journalist Pearl in 2002. The court also dismissed an appeal of Sheikh's acquittal by Pearl's family. (AP Photo/Waseem Khan)

The Supreme Court in Pakistan has ordered the release of British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh who was convicted, and later acquitted, over the beheading of a US journalist in 2002.

Mr Sheikh has been on death row since his initial conviction for Daniel Pearl’s murder 19 years ago, but his lawyer argued that his client “should not have spent one day in jail”.

Lawyer Mehmood A Sheikh added that the court also ordered the release of three other Pakistanis who had been sentenced to life behind bars for their part in Mr Pearl’s kidnapping and murder.

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The Supreme Court voted two to one in favour of Mr Sheikh. Pic: Associated Press

Mr Sheikh was formally acquitted of his involvement in April 2020.

The court also dismissed an appeal by the family of Mr Pearl and the Pakistani government over the acquittal of Mr Sheikh.

In statement released by their lawyer, Mr Pearl’s family said: “Today’s decision is a complete travesty of justice and the release of these killers puts in danger journalists everywhere and the people of Pakistan.”

The country’s three-judge Supreme Court ruled two to one in favour of upholding Mr Sheikh’s acquittal and ordered his release, Pearl family lawyer Faisal Siddiqi said.

The US government has previously said it would demand that Mr Sheikh be extradited to the US to be tried there.

“We urge the US government to take all necessary actions under the law to correct this injustice. We also hope that the Pakistani authorities will take all necessary steps to rectify this travesty of justice,” the Pearl family said.

Mr Siddiqi said that the only legal avenue left to pursue would be to ask for a review of the court’s decision, but added that would be carried out by the same court that upheld the appeal, meaning “in practical terms” there is no further legal route in Pakistan.

FILE - In this April 15, 2007, file photo, Dr. Judea Pearl, father of American journalist Daniel Pearl, who was killed by terrorists in 2002, speaks in Miami Beach, Fla. Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, ordered the release of Ahmad Saeed Omar Sheikh who was convicted and later acquitted in the gruesome beheading of American journalist Pearl in 2002. The court also dismissed an appeal of Sheikh's acquittal by Pearl's family. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
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Daniel Pearl (R) was beheaded after being lured to a meeting in Pakistan. Pic: Associated Press

Mr Sheikh was convicted of helping to lure Mr Pearl to a meeting in the Pakistani city of Karachi before the journalist was kidnapped.

Mr Pearl had been looking in to the link between Pakistani militants and Richard C Reid – the “shoe bomber”, who tried to blow up a flight between Paris and Miami with explosives in his shoes.

He went missing on 23 January, with his body being found in a shallow grave shortly after a video of his beheading was sent to the US consulate in Karachi.

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COVID-19: Tony Blair says UK should lead global push for immunity passports | Politics News

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Tony Blair says UK must 'completely reconsider' it's coronavirus vaccine strategy

Tony Blair has called for immunity passports to be rolled out and urged the UK to take advantage of its upcoming position chairing the G7 to push other countries to do the same.

The former prime minister said it was “inevitable” the idea will be developed by other nations, as the global race for inoculation against coronavirus gets under way.

A report by his non-profit organisation the Tony Blair Institute said the “only way to navigate allowing people to travel internationally again” is creating a global travel pass showing each individual’s COVID-19 status.

Live COVID updates from the UK and around the world

The idea has been mooted before but was rejected by Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove just last month, when he told Sky News: “I certainly am not planning to introduce any vaccine passports, and I don’t know anyone else in government who is.”

Since then, the Sunday Telegraph reported the government is funding at least eight separate firms to develop such a product, which is already in use in countries in the Middle East and Asia.

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Tony Blair’s institute said the UK should ‘lead or be led’

Mr Blair has made multiple interventions during the pandemic, and recently suggested the idea of pushing back the second dose of coronavirus vaccines to dramatically increase the number of people offered at least some protection.

The idea gained traction and is now government policy, helping boost the UK’s global standing in the race to administer jabs.

Turning his attention to what happens next, Mr Blair’s institute said the UK should “place the creation of a global COVID-19 travel pass as a key item on the G7 agenda”, when leaders from the US, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada congregate in Cornwall later this summer.

It added Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s approach to international travel is “disjointed” and “unco-ordinated” – costing hundreds of billions in exports, foreign investment and tourism.

Geoff Holland, 90, and Jenny Holland, 86, from Mansfield receive their injections of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine at a former Wickes store in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, which is being used as a covid vaccination centre. The couple, who met in a sheltered housing complex, were due to get married last April but had to postpone their wedding twice due to lockdown restrictions. They eventually held their ceremony in August. Picture date: Monday January 25, 2021.
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The UK is one of the countries rolling out a vaccine quickest

The report released on Thursday said: “The UK faces a choice: lead or be led. If we choose to wait, a confusing array of different passports await our citizens.

“We can avoid this and the complications of multiple passes and varying travel requirements if the UK takes the lead on developing a single, global COVID pass.

“In the year of the UK’s G7 presidency, there has never been a more momentous opportunity – or need – for the government to show global leadership.”

Zurab Pololikashvili, the UN World Tourism Organisation’s secretary-general, last week said at an event in Madrid: “Vaccines must be part of a wider, co-ordinated approach that includes certificates and passes for safe cross-border travel.”

The leaders of Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Malta have called for the introduction of certificates which designate if a traveller has been vaccinated or not.

In Australia, education minister Alan Tudge said on Monday planned “digital vaccine certificates” would allow international students to return to study in the country without the need for them to hotel quarantine.

Over three nights Sky News will host a series of special programmes examining the UK’s response to the pandemic.

Watch COVID Crisis: Learning the Lessons at 8pm on 9, 10 and 11 February

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COVID-19: Michael Gove says Tory MP ‘out of order’ to tell anti-vaxxers to ‘persist’ against restrictions | Politics News

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COVID-19: Michael Gove says Tory MP 'out of order' to tell anti-vaxxers to 'persist' against restrictions | Politics News

A Tory MP who urged anti-vaccination campaigners to keep going with their fight against coronavirus restrictions and told them NHS capacity figures were being “manipulated” is “wrong” and “completely out of order”, a senior minister has said.

Michael Gove told Sky News that Sir Desmond Swayne should apologise and retract his comments.

However, the Cabinet Office minister would not be drawn on whether he should lose the Conservative whip.

Sky News revealed Sir Desmond’s comments in an exclusive story on Wednesday.

Sir Desmond told Sky News he would not apologise for telling a group – who say vaccines are dangerous – to “persist” with their campaign against COVID-19 restrictions.

During an interview in November with Save our Rights UK, obtained by Sky News, he said: “It seems to be a manageable risk, particularly as figures have been manipulated… We’re told there is a deathly, deadly pandemic proceeding at the moment.

“That is difficult to reconcile with ICUs (intensive care units) actually operating at typical occupation levels for the time of year and us bouncing round at the typical level of deaths for the time of year.”

He also told the group, which has previously advanced false claims about COVID vaccines, in the interview: “As the last (House of Commons) Speaker used to say, (John) Bercow, he’d say ‘Persist! Persist!’ That’s my advice – persist.

“And I’ll persist too.”

There is no evidence of data being manipulated, and at the time of the MP’s comments, deaths were 14% above the five-year average – according to the Office for National Statistics.

Over three nights Sky News will host a series of special programmes examining the UK’s response to the pandemic.

Watch COVID Crisis: Learning the Lessons at 8pm on 9, 10 and 11 February

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