Off-Topic: Guess what a President Trump would have the legal authority to do?
A few weeks ago, Donald Trump openly offered to pay the legal fees of his supporters who assault protesters.
A few days ago, a Donald Trump supporter assaulted a protester, sucker-punching him.
A few hours ago, Donald Trump openly stated that he’s “looking into” paying the legal fees of the man who sucker-punched the protester.
In the United States, the pardon power for federal crimes is granted to the President of the United States under Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution which states that the President "shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment". The U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted this language to include the power to grant pardons, conditional pardons, commutations of sentence, conditional commutations of sentence, remissions of fines and forfeitures, respites, and amnesties.
...The Justice Department requires that anyone requesting a pardon wait five years after conviction or release prior to receiving a pardon. A presidential pardon may be granted at any time, however, and as when Ford pardoned Nixon, the pardoned person need not yet have been convicted or even formally charged with a crime.
The only “silver lining” here (and this is a pretty thin one) is that Presidential Pardons only apply to federal crimes, not state ones.
Of course, while murder is normally a state crime, there are a number of circumstances under which it becomes federal. The first 4 bold-faced categories are of particular significance here:
Under the Constitution, criminal law is mostly handled by individual states. If you are accused of murder committed in California, you will most likely be charged and tried under California’s laws. However, there are many circumstances in which killing someone can also break a federal law. In those instances, you can be tried in federal court.
These cases usually involve killings that are related to the following:
- Drug trafficking
- Crossing state borders
- Occur on a body of water
- Are considered an attack on the U.S. government or judicial system
Here are 10 such circumstances in which a killing could be charged as a federal crime:
- Murder of an Elected/Appointed Federal Official
- Murder of a Federal Judge or Law Enforcement Official
- Killing of an Immediate Family Member of Law Enforcement Officials
- A Killing Designed to Influence the Outcome of a Court Case
- A Killing Committed During Bank Robbery
- Murder Related to Rape, Child Molestation, and Sexual Exploitation of Children
- Murder Aboard a Ship
- Drug-Related Murders
- Murder for Hire
- Murder by Mail
In other words, if elected President, Trump would not be able to commute the sentence or pardon any of his thugs who beat up (or murdered) everyday schmoes, but he would have the authority to commute or pardon anyone who beat up or murdered any elected or appointed federal official, judge, law enforcement official or any member of their immediate family.
As for the schmoe-murderers, he’d still be free to pay for their legal defense if he wished to.
Have a good day.