Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, ratified in 1789, authorizes the President to grant pardons and other forms of clemency involving “offenses against the United States”.
Out of the box, George Washington addressed Congress in his 7th State of the Union explaining his rationale and presidential powers to pardon two men convicted of high treason and sentenced to hang.
Andrew Johnson granted full pardons and amnesty to most anyone who fought for the Confederacy against the Union in the Civil War. Jimmy Carter pardoned 200,000 draft resisters from the Vietnam era. Barack Obama not only issued 212 pardons but also had 1,715 commutations, many of which were related to drug charge convictions. Donald Trump just issued 11 more to raise from 17 to 24 pardons plus a cumulative 10 in clemency form equaling total 34 in all.
Suffice to say for more than 200 years Presidents have frequently used their pardon powers aggressively, and sometimes in controversial ways. Legal scholars and politicians of today like yesteryear will often raise concerns on such matters. Adversaries may even object on whether or not the Executive strays from what the founders intended. ,
Yet, these acts of mercy for whoever and whenever always rest squarely on the shoulders of the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of our great land…