Former President Trump will have a hard time getting a pardon in Georgia if he is found guilty on one or more of the 13 charges that were revealed against him in Fulton County this week. This is because the governor of the state doesn’t have the power to give pardons like governors in other states do.
Governor Brian Kemp (R), who has been a vocal critic of Trump, might not grant Trump a pardon anyway. But even if he did, he wouldn’t be able to do it. The State Board for Pardons and Paroles, which is made up of five people, has this power. They have seven-year terms and also are chosen by the governor and approved by the Georgia State Senate. And they can’t look at release requests until a prisoner has completed at least 5 years of his or her term and has no additional open criminal charges.
ABC reported that legal expert Dan Abrams stated on this week’s “Good Morning America” that the charge is “effectively pardon-proof,” meaning that if Trump wins the presidential election, he is able to make it go away. “He is unable to do that in this situation.”
Slate.com says that Trump might attempt to persuade Georgia’s Republican lawmakers to change the state’s process, and then pray that a pro-Trump governor or even one who is worried about the misuse of judicial authority for political reasons is elected. But even then, Slate says, the change would need an amendment to the constitution, which would take a two-thirds vote from both houses of the state government and ratification from a majority of Georgia voters in the following election. This is a big job.
Trump can also do one of two other things. One is to become president of the United States and then forgive himself for all crimes, including not only federal crimes but also state crimes. The conventional opinion states that the president can’t pardon state accusations but conservative radio broadcasting host Mark Levin has claimed that since the Dept. of Justice says a sitting president can’t be indicted, partially because this would get in the way of his job, the same policy might be implemented to state charges in accordance with the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.
This method has never before been tried, but neither has the indictment of a past president or a top presidential candidate ever happened at the state or federal level.