American presidents can issue pardons to anyone who has been convicted of a federal crime, even for treason or murder. When this happens, it’s as if the crime was never committed. Article II of the U.S. Constitution gives a president “power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States.” The only real limits on it are that the power cannot be used for immunity to impeachments and a president cannot pardon someone for individual state crimes – those are up to state governors.
History of Presidential Pardons
Pardons – Who Gave Them out and Who got Them
Franklin D. Roosevelt currently holds the record of most pardons after issuing 2,819 during his term in office. In 1833, Andrew Jackson tried to pardon George Wilson, who was facing the death penalty for stealing U.S. mail. For unknown reasons, however, Wilson refused the pardon and was later executed. Since this was the first time anyone had rejected a presidential pardon, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case and ruled that people can refuse to be pardoned.
President Donald Trump is also receiving backlash for his pardon choices since many of them are former associates; however, as history shows us, this has been the way of presidents since the beginning of America.