Activist Monica Lewinsky proposed a constitutional amendment that would prohibit presidents from pardoning themselves.
In an article for Vanity Fair posted Monday, Lewinsky suggested a handful of new constitutional “safeguards” for democracy. And her suggestion to revoke presidents’ “‘get out of jail free’ card” took direct aim at former President Donald Trump, who is campaigning again for the White House with 91 criminal charges against him.
“They should not be able to wield the most power of anyone in our country and not be held responsible for illegal or unconstitutional actions while wielding that power,” Lewinsky wrote. “We have a phrase for this already: abuse of power.”
Lewinsky leaned on Georgetown constitutional law Professor Neal Katyal to explain how a newly elected Trump could potentially order the Department of Justice to drop the federal charges for election conspiracy and document stealing, if he hasn’t been tried in the two cases by then. “We wouldn’t even get to the pardon power question,” Katyal told Lewinsky.
“That would contravene every norm in the book, but [Katyal] doesn’t doubt that Trump would try to save his own hide,” Lewinsky wrote.
Trump potentially has another hurdle to clear in the form of a Civil War-era clause in the 14th Amendment that bars insurrectionists from office. But a judge in Michigan recently ruled that Trump could stay on the primary ballot in that state despite efforts to omit him.
Lewinsky was once embroiled in a scandal of presidential misconduct when she worked for President Bill Clinton as an intern. The two had an affair.
Clinton was impeached in 1998 on charges of lying under oath and obstruction of justice for concealing his relationship with Lewinsky. He was later acquitted and served out his second term. Lewinsky produced “Impeachment: American Crime Story,” an FX series about them that aired in 2021.
In her piece for Vanity Fair, Lewinsky also proposed a retirement age for politicians, the abolition of the Electoral College, mandatory background checks for presidential and congressional candidates, and an absolute prohibition on suspending the Constitution for any reason, even under martial law.