Obama Attorney General Shares View On Pardoning Trump
Eric Holder, former US attorney general, following a ceremony with former US President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama for the unveiling of their official White House portraits in Washington, D.C., US, on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022.
(Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Eric Holder, who served as attorney general during the Obama administration, offered a scenario where he would support pardoning former President Donald Trump.

The issue arose during an interview that aired Sunday with Margaret Brennan, moderator of CBS News’s “Face the Nation,” as Trump faces charges in a documents-related case. Some polling shows that most Americans support a pardon if Trump is convicted.

“I want to ask you to put on your attorney general hat again, would you counsel President [Joe] Biden or the next president, whoever that is, to consider a pardon of the 45th president of the United States, either before or after a theoretical conviction?” Brennan asked.

“I think I’d tell the president — the next attorney general — you know, to let the system do its work, try the cases, see what the results are. And then treat that convicted president or anybody else who was convicted as any other person would be treated,” Holder said.

“Pardons generally are for people who express remorse and then who have done things that show that they have turned their lives around,” Holder added. “If those kinds of determinations can be made with regard to the former president or anybody else who was convicted, yeah, I would support that. In the absence of something like that, I don’t think that would be a wise thing to do.”

In a case brought by special counsel Jack Smith, Trump has pleaded not guilty to 37 federal charges, including 31 alleged violations of the Espionage Act for the “willful retention” of national defense information, as well as charges related to obstruction and making false statements.


Trump, now engaged in a 2024 campaign for president, may also face charges stemming from Smith’s inquiry into efforts geared toward fighting the outcome of the 2020 election. Trump broadly denies any wrongdoing and claims he is the target of a “witch hunt.”

Some GOP candidates for the 2024 presidential nomination have indicated they would support a pardon, while others have been more hesitant or outright rejected the idea.

Trump also faces state-level charges in the New York hush-money case brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Charges in a 2020 election-focused inquiry in Georgia may soon follow. Although a president can only pardon federal offenses, there is room for the governor or other executive officials to issue pardons on the state level.

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