Donald Trump has made history as the first former president to ever face criminal charges. Now, questions have been raised about whether or not he would be able to pardon himself, should he win the 2024 presidential election.

Trump was indicted earlier in the month on 37 counts for mishandling classified documents, attempting to obstruct justice and lying to the Department of Justice about his actions. He was arrested and arraigned last week and pleaded not guilty on all counts.

According to the Constitution, the president has the power to pardon federal crimes, except in cases involving impeachment and state offenses. While a president cannot pardon “future acts,” any offense that has already taken place is fair game.

Trump considered granting himself and his family preemptive pardons in 2020, arguing that his political opponents would use the courts against him once he left office. These statements were made right before January 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol.

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Trump is not the first former president to discuss the idea of a self-pardon. During the Watergate scandal, President Richard Nixon weighed it as an option in the face of possible legal and political prosecution.

Experts say that, if litigated, the case would likely go straight to the Supreme Court. Determining whether or not Trump, as president, could pardon himself for crimes he committed before he took office would be difficult.

Throughout the investigation into Trump’s mishandling of classified national security information, his GOP base has taken to social media to denounce the Department of Justice for acting politically. Trump has supported this narrative, but now his opponents are accusing him of doing the same thing.

“He’s already declared that if he’s elected president, he’s going to appoint a special prosecutor to go after the Biden family. That’s called a weaponization of the Justice Department,” said Republican presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson in an interview on ABC News.

A self-pardon would only add to the arguments that Trump is being hypocritical.

There are also questions being raised about the capacity of Trump to rule as president if he is convicted and forced to do jail time. He has made numerous statements claiming that he will not drop out of the 2024 election, therefore plans about how to proceed in the event that he serves from prison need to be considered.

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