Presidential Pardons and Iranian Prisoner Swap

January 17th, 2016

Lest anyone think I am a broken record, today I told the Houston Chronicle that there was absolutely nothing problematic about the President’s decision to issue a pre-trial pardon in order to secure the release of Americans held prisoner by the Iranians.

Josh Blackman, an associate professor at the South Texas College of Law, describes pardons as a “healthy exercise of presidential power in regards to foreign affairs.”

He said it fits within presidential discretion to issue pardons in pursuit of various foreign policy goals, similar to Saturday’s release of four American citizens. A pardon for people who haven’t had a trial is more unusual, as is the case with Mechanic, Faridi and Afghahi. All had pleaded not guilty and were awaiting details on their upcoming trials.

I also told the reporter that the pardon power goes back to Jefferson, who pardoned everyone convicted under the alien & sedition acts. The most famous pardon was Ford’s unconditional pardon of Nixon.

Josh Gerstein has much more on the topic.