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Government & Politics

Meet one of the Nation’s Leading Experts on Presidential Pardoning

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Dr. Jeffrey Crouch on CSPAN discussing presidential pardoning power with Robb Harleston in 2011.
Courtesy of CSPAN

Over the course of American history, U.S. Presidents have had the Constitutional power to grant clemency to incarcerated citizens. The question being asked right now, is if President Trump will pardon his associates convicted of crimes, like Michael Cohen and Roger Stone. Even more importantly, can he pardon himself if he is convicted, too?

American University School of Professional & Extended Studies assistant professor, Dr. Jeffrey Crouch, spoke about this issue at a conference at the University of St. Thomas Law School earlier this year. He is one of the nation’s leading experts on this topic, in addition to other political themes, including Congress and the Executive Office. This annual conference invited experts across the country to discuss the future of presidential pardons; for Crouch, clemency and pardoning are more than a political process. It’s also an expression of power.

“This situation is unprecedented and will pave the path for future presidents,” he said regarding the question of the President’s possible self-pardoning. In his expert opinion, Crouch believes we are facing at time where a topic that is usually relegated to niche conversations is at the forefront of the news cycle. Contrary to past administrations, there hasn’t been an investigation into collusion, obstruction, and other illegal activities quite like that of the Trump administration.

Crouch has written numerous books, including The Presidential Pardon Power, and his knowledge provides students a unique opportunity to understand complex issues by meeting face-to-face with experts who work all over Washington, DC.

Since assuming office, President Trump has issued eight pardons and four shortened sentences. The one that entered the mainstream discourse was that of Alice Marie Johnson, a first-time drug offender sentenced to life without parole. Her case was brought up to the President by reality TV star Kim Kardashian late last year. Johnson was also present during the St. Thomas conference.

“[Pardoning] is one of the most powerful Constitutional powers a President holds. I want to make this topic more accessible for the public,” said Crouch, who discussed a similar topic with the Los Angeles Times earlier this week.

As a faculty member of American University’s Washington Semester Program, AU GAP Program, and AU Mentorship Program, Crouch takes his students on a variety of site visits where students are able to apply the knowledge learned in the classroom to real life.

“My goal as a professor in this program is to allow students to view issues from both sides of the argument,” said Crouch.

This past semester, Crouch’s American Politics seminar within the Washington Semester Program had a variety of guest speakers, including U.S. Representative Jamie Raskin, President Clinton’s former chief speechwriter David Kusnet, and pundits from The Heritage Foundation and The Brookings Institution.

Faculty in American University’s School of Professional and Extended Studies are leading experts in their field and impart their wisdom to students.