It may come as little relief to those unsettled by the commander in chief’s autocratic impulses that this president will likely face the same fate as Nixon if he acts upon his lawyers’ ignorant legal opinions. But perhaps take comfort from Meacham’s insight in “The Soul of America” that “to know what has come before is to be armed against despair.”
History does, in fact, show that a president cannot pardon himself. Days before Nixon resigned in 1974, the Justice Department issued an opinion that echoed centuries of American and English law by declaring, “Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the president cannot pardon himself.“
The history of Bill Clinton’s presidency also undermines recent claims from Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani that Trump is legally entitled as president to ignore a subpoena from Robert S. Mueller III. But do not take my word for it. Read instead Giuliani’s own words from 1998. “You gotta do it. I mean, you don’t have a choice,” the former U.S. attorney said of Clinton’s legal options if he received a federal subpoena to testify to Whitewater investigators.