Let’s just suppose an American President wants to murder someone. Of course, he doesn’t want to do it himself. So he orders, an underlying, a Federal employee to commit the murder.
The employee protests (understandably) saying the job is not worth going to jail. The President assures the employee that’s not a concern because if the employee is charged with the murder the President will just pardon him.
Is this an extreme example? Yes, of course it is. It may be the most extreme. Let’s make it less extreme.
Instead of murder the President orders the employee to embezzle money, again assuring the employee he will pardon him if accused. Still too extreme?
Suppose someone really pisses the President off. So the President directs a Federal prosecutor to engage in a malicious prosecution of that person, depriving the target of the President’s vengeance of his civil rights. Again the President assures the prosecutor that if he is criminally charged for this malicious prosecution that the President shall pardon him. So, no worries.
In fact, it appears the President of the United States ordered Kevin McAleenan, the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, to violate United States law by blocking asylum seekers from entering the United States even at legal ports of entry. As in our examples, the “employee” protests stating that what the President is asking him to do clearly violates United States law. The President informed McAleenan to not worry, if anyone tries to send him to jail he will pardon him.
Of one thing I am certain, the pardon power was never intended by our Founders to be used to incite or encourage lawlessness. If the President did as has been reported it should be viewed as an impeachable offense. Nor should it matter how serious the underlying offense is when abusing the pardon power to incite unlawful acts by another government official.