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 August 17, 2023

Donald Trump has little chance of getting a pardon if convicted in Georgia

Former President Donald Trump has virtually no chance of being pardoned if he's convicted of any of the crimes he's accused of in Georgia, Breitbart reported. The former president faces 13 counts in an indictment handed down in Fulton County Monday.

Experts generally agree that a sitting president can pardon himself from federal crimes, making a Trump 2024 victory the ticket out of jail time. However, crimes prosecuted at the state level are granted by pardon only by the governor, not the president.

Unfortunately, the process for the state of Georgia works a little differently and puts Trump at a disadvantage. Rather than leaving it up to the governor as most states do, the Peach State grants pardons through a five-member board known as the State Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Board members are appointed by the governor and serve seven-year terms after being confirmed by the Georgia State Senate. Even if they are all friendly to Trump, the process usually requires candidates to serve at least five years of their sentence and have no other cases pending.

This process is well established and would take the work of the Georgia legislature to change the pardon procedure via a constitutional amendment. The move would require a two-thirds majority to ratify with a governor willing to go along with a pardon at the end of it all anyway.

Another possible approach for a state pardon involves Trump winning the presidency and using a constitutional clause to get his way. While it's generally accepted that the president cannot grant state pardons, talk radio host and constitutional lawyer Mark Levin thinks it could work.

According to Levin, Trump could find cover under the Department of Justice's reluctance to indict a sitting president. The rationale for that rule is that doing so would interfere with the president's duties so the same could be asserted about serving time for criminal charges from the state.

Because of the Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution stipulates that federal laws trump state laws, perhaps the prohibition on indictments would extend down through the states. However, like the rest of what's happening for Trump, there is no precedent for this.

Another angle Trump's team could try is to have the case moved from Georgia to a federal court on the grounds that it is a matter of executive privilege.  That would allow Trump to pardon himself or dismiss the case entirely if he becomes president.

These options are being weighed as former president is facing four separate criminal trials amounting to 91 charges, the New York Post reported. The latest charges from Georgia involve felony racketeering, a statute typically reserved for organized crime.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis alleges that Trump ran a criminal enterprise to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The indictment includes 19 other Trump associates, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

The other cases include a New York grand jury indictment for supposed "hush money" payments made to former porn star Stormy Daniels with whom Trump had a relationship. Trump is also on the hook for his alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol and another case over mishandled classified materials.

All of these cases come just as Trump is about to slip into high gear for his 2024 presidential bid. That timing points strongly to a concerted effort to derail the campaign, or at least keep him too busy to effectively campaign.

Trump is in a precarious position with so many charges leveled against him from many angles. It seems the only way out now is for him to win the presidency, but even that isn't a guarantee.

Written By:
Christine Favocci

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