Tradition calls for those who have served as president to be called president after they leave office, and there’s no doubt that retiring from the highest office has its list of perks.
But a shield from lawsuits isn’t one of them, and Trump is likely to be a favorite target for attorney generals and district attorneys around the country. Without a pardon, he’s fair game, but even with one, he would still be a target.
As Reuters reports, presidential pardons can only accomplish so much. They can shut down prosecutions by the U.S. Department of Justice, a federal agency. But investigations brought by state-level prosecutors, such as the criminal probe Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is leading into whether Trump’s businesses engaged in fraud, would still be active.
Vance has not charged anyone with criminal wrongdoing and Trump has said the investigation is politically motivated.
A self-pardon would have only increased calls to prosecute Trump on a state level, said Daniel R. Alonso, a lawyer at the Buckley firm and Vance’s former deputy in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
It could also have fueled efforts to hold Trump accountable through civil lawsuits brought by private litigants, such as family members of people who died during the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump followers, said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.