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What is Pardon Bribery Scheme? Know the details here

Tulika Tandon

Why in News?

The US Justice Department has been investigating a bribery scheme directing money to officials in the White House, Washington DC, in exchange for the presidential pardon or commutation. The court has released a few documents supporting the same alleged bribes. 

The reports have also been suggesting that President Trump may use his clemency power by pardoning members of his family and his closest aides during his final days in the White House. Donald Trump towards the end of his term is going to pardon his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn which led him into controversy. He had twice pleaded guilty for lying to the FBI.

The US justice department also informed that no government official is the “subject or target” of the bribery probe.

What are the bribery claims?

  1. As per the documents released by the US District Court, they are investigating a “bribery conspiracy scheme in which [redacted] would offer a substantial political contribution in exchange for a presidential pardon or reprieve of sentence for [redacted]”.
  2. No timeline of the scheme and the names of the people who are believed to have been involved have been revealed by the Court but criminal activity has been pointed out.
  3. The investigators of the case informed that the convict who was seeking pardon was most probably arrested earlier in 2020 and someone has been carrying out a lobbying campaign in the White House on his behalf.
  4. There have also been claims that the money would have been offered to be transferred in form of political donations in exchange for Presidential pardon. 

Pardon investigation is Fake News!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2020

What is a presidential pardon (In USA)?

  1. The President in the United States of America has the constitutional right to pardon or commute the sentence of people who have been changed of breaking the federal laws.
  2. Even the Supreme Court had held that this power to the US President has been “granted without limit” and cannot be restricted by the Congress too.
  3. The President has been provided with the constitutional power to pardon individuals for nearly any crime committed. He cannot be questioned for his actions or is not answerable for his pardons.

What are the limitations?

  1.  The power only applies to federal crimes and not state crimes.
  2.  The President cannot issue any pardon in the case of impeachment of the officials of the Government.

What are the Indian President's clemency powers? 

The powers of Indian President have been listed in Article 72 of the Indian Constitution. It states the following powers of the President in case of pardons:

It says that the President shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence.

These powers can be used in the following cases as listed in the Constitution:

  1. In all cases where the punishment or sentence is by a court-martial
  2. In all cases where the punishment or sentence is for an offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the Union extends
  3. In all cases where the sentence is a sentence of death

However, these pardons can be exercised by the President by seeking the advice of his council of ministers and there are no provisions or mechanisms to question the legality of his decisions. 

All eyes at Donald Trump

President Trump now in the last 2 months of his tenure is under speculative eyes. He is being suspected to pardon himself of all the cases that have been registered against him using his clemency powers. He has however not agreed to the claims and has denied being involved in anything wrong which leaves him with no reason to use his clemency powers for him. 


Who qualifies for a Presidential pardon?

Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the US Constitution grants the President, the power to pardon any person convicted for or accused of federal crime. The president also may choose not to pardon those convicted for or accused of violating state or local laws.

Can the President of the United States give pardon for anything?

Except in the cases of impeachment from the Government offices, the President has been given the right to use his clemency powers

What are the limitations of Presidential Pardon?

The President of the United States cannot give pardon in case of impeachment cases.

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