The idea might sound good on paper, but in the real world it could backfire.
I don’t believe a self-pardon’s gonna fly.
I don’t mean to say that President Donald Trump will not attempt it. He very well might.
I also don’t mean to say that it won’t be a big deal if and when he does attempt it. It will be a very big deal.
I mean, rather, that a self-pardon will not materially decrease the likelihood of his attempted prosecution by the Justice Department after he leaves office, and may even increase the chances of his indictment.
More important, it will probably not result in legal recognition that the pardon power extends to presidential self-forgiveness. To the contrary, if Trump does attempt a self-pardon in the face of a compelling federal criminal case against him, the result is likely to be Supreme Court rejection of the self-pardon’s legality.