Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Because acceptance of a pardon amounts to a confession of guilt, the acceptance by Mrs. Clinton would, to a degree, besmirch both Mrs. Clinton and also Pres. Obama. After all, Mrs. Clinton was Pres. Obama’s secretary of state. If she was committing illegal acts as secretary, it happened literally on his watch.

...What looks like one question—will the president pardon Mrs. Clinton?—turns out, on analysis, to be two. The first question is: Would Mrs. Clinton wish to receive a pardon?

That question seems to be a proverbial no-brainer. Surely, any person who had been in federal government would be eager to receive a presidential pardon, because it eliminates even the possibility of federal prosecution. That looks like all upside and no downside.

But there is a downside, and it isn’t trivial. A pardon must be accepted by the person who is pardoned if it is to effectively stymie any prosecution.

Furthermore, there is solid legal precedent that acceptance of a pardon is equivalent to confession of guilt. A U.S. Supreme Court case from 1915 called Burdick v. U.S. establishes that principle; it has never been overturned....