Professor Jed Shugerman’s blog post on Trump’s presidential pardons was featured in Slate.
After President Donald Trump pardoned former Sheriff Joe Arpaio last month, observers feared that the president was just warming up his pardon pen for members of his inner circle who may be targets of criminal investigations. Many legal experts have said there would be no recourse other than impeachment, but at least these pardoned defendants would lose their Fifth Amendment privileges against self-incrimination, and as a result they could be forced to testify against Trump in some forum.
If Trump fires Mueller and his team, state attorneys general and state prosecutors can hire them. If Trump succeeds in pardoning the defendants or himself, state prosecutors can step in without violating the rule against double jeopardy because of the legal concept of “dual sovereignty”: States and the federal government have overlapping but separate sovereignty, and each can bring its own prosecutions for the same acts as long as those acts violate both federal and state laws. For example, in the Rodney King case, police officers were found not guilty in California state court, but they were later convicted in federal court for federal crimes that covered the same set of acts.