“…and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” US Constitution, Article 2, Section 2.
One reading of this statement is simply this: If a President has been impeached, he will cede the power to grant reprieves and pardons. “He shall have power…except in cases of impeachment.” An impeached President — one completely without a shred of decency or ethics — could use the power of the pardon to shroud his own perfidy and prevent himself from being convicted of the high crimes and misdemeanors that he has been charged with in his impeachment. Then, it would make sense to put in a limitation to Presidential pardons in cases where the President has been impeached.
In a more narrow interpretation, he is only limited in that he is not to give pardons to people who are impeached. That would have been easy to clarify if that’s what was meant.
In either case, the provision does not say that the power is “unlimited.” It does not give explicit and specific limits (except in case of impeachment). That doesn’t mean that the power is unlimited. Those are two different concepts.
I have bought many tools in my life. For instance, one of those tools is a hammer. Nowhere in the instructions for the hammer does it say I can’t use the hammer to bash people’s brains in. Similarly, I own a saw. Nowhere in the instructions for the saw does it say that I can’t use it to dismember people and store their limbs in the freezer. I own a screwdriver. Nowhere in the instructions for the screwdriver does it say I can’t use to stab folks in the heart. I also own a car. Neither my registration nor my driver’s license says that I am not allowed to mow down pedestrians.
Yes, there are other laws that make it clear that I’m not allowed to murder people.
Pardons are meant to be tools. The framers of the Constitution did not bother to say, “The Pardon is a tool that should be used to right wrongs and dispense mercy — not to be used to destroy the rule of law or help the President destroy the nation he is supposed to protect.”
Why would they put that? A political entity clearly, by its very nature, must admit of a variety of opinions, approaches, and policies. They didn’t bother to put in the Constitution that the President, whatever his political leanings, must actually take his oath of office seriously. Clearly, #45 is working for Putin’s benefit & doing what he can, in a thousand ways, large and small, to destroy America. It makes zero sense, to use the Constitution as the excuse for him to destroy the Constitution.
If the rule of law is subverted, the entire rest of the Constitution is useless. That’s why he’s pardoning war criminals. He’s not pardoning anyone out of a sense of “loyalty” either. That’s absurd. He feels no loyalty for what people have done. He’s using pardons as a weapon for the destruction of the Constitution.
Imagine you hired a contractor to fix your deck. You provide him with all the materials and tools he needs to do the job. You both sign a contract and you agree that he should be allowed to fix your deck without your standing there the whole time telling him how to do his job. After all, he’s the professional.
Now, day one on the job, he begins to dismantle the deck. And the the supports. And your roof. He uses the hammer to smash your windows. He says, “Look! Look here! It says I can fix the deck any way I want. You are not to interfere.”
You fire him. In no uncertain terms. But he comes back the next day and continues to destroy your house. Again he points to the contract and he points out that there is nothing in the contract that explicitly says he can’t destroy your house, just so long as he fixes the deck. Meanwhile, he’s hired a gang of thugs to keep you from physically kicking him off your property. He still claims to be fixing your deck, even though every piece of decking has been put through a chipper. You discover that someone wants to put up a shopping mall where your house is and he is paying your “contractor” to destroy your house so you’ll have to move.
What comes next?
I’m not sure, but I am sure it was never intended by the framers of the Constitution that a sitting President should be allowed to use any single provision or any combination of provisions in the Constitution as a way to destroy the very Constitution he swore to uphold.