It’s easy to encourage overzealous evidence-gathering, use harsh charges to leverage plea deals on lesser charges or avoid difficult conversations with witnesses about preserving evidence. In fact, the pressures of the job can make those decisions almost necessary. But prosecutors must have the training and the encouragement to prioritize decisions that err on the side of caution and fairness over decisions made solely for the purposes of convictions or sentences. None of these examples is exceptional; each is drawn from something I frequently experienced directly — like many other prosecutors -- or heard anecdotally.
There is a broad consensus that a president exercises the pardon power properly — not “corruptly” — when he grants clemency based on considerations of mercy or the public welfare. President Gerald Ford invoked both of those values when he pardoned Nixon: He said that a prosecution of the former president would be too divisive and that Nixon had suffered enough. President George H.W. Bush gestured to both values when he pardoned former Reagan administration officials for their involvement in the Iran-contra scandal.
In Trump’s case, the question would be whether he was acting out of the goodness of his heart, or covering up for his family, his associates and himself.