BuzzFeed News

Reporting To You

news

8 Things Trump Can Legally Do As President

The president says he has the "absolute right" to share classified information with the Russians under the law. So, let's see what else he could do!

Posted on May 17, 2017, at 11:11 a.m. ET

1. Pardon a bunch of serial killers.

President Trump could pardon any and all serial killers who were convicted under federal laws (as opposed to state laws), because the constitution places no limit on his pardon power.
Orion Pictures Corp/Everett Collection

President Trump could pardon any and all serial killers who were convicted under federal laws (as opposed to state laws), because the constitution places no limit on his pardon power.

2. Nominate Gary Busey to be the next Supreme Court justice.

While the appointments have to ultimately be approved by the Senate, the president's nominees don't have to meet any constitutional criteria.
Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images

While the appointments have to ultimately be approved by the Senate, the president's nominees don't have to meet any constitutional criteria.

3. Send a message to every phone in the country.

Technically, alerts are sent for emergency reasons, but, hey, the president gets to declare disasters. Oh, and under FCC guidelines, there's no way you can opt out of these.
BuzzFeed

Technically, alerts are sent for emergency reasons, but, hey, the president gets to declare disasters. Oh, and under FCC guidelines, there's no way you can opt out of these.

4. Take a selfie from inside Area 51.

Photographing certain military bases, including Area 51, is prohibited under federal law, but the president is the one who gets to choose which sites need to stay secret.
Barry King / WireImage

Photographing certain military bases, including Area 51, is prohibited under federal law, but the president is the one who gets to choose which sites need to stay secret.

ADVERTISEMENT

5. Deliver a State of the Union address that is just a Post-It note with the words "We good" scribbled on it.

The constitution only requires that the president "from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union," but it doesn't say anything about needing to actually give a speech.
Pool / Getty Images

The constitution only requires that the president "from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union," but it doesn't say anything about needing to actually give a speech.

6. Issue a proclamation declaring June "Don't You Just Hate Rosie O'Donnell Month."

Although they're largely just ceremonial, presidential proclamations are a form of executive action that are signed at Trump's discretion.
Andrew Toth / Getty Images for Fund for Women's Equality/ ERA Coalition

Although they're largely just ceremonial, presidential proclamations are a form of executive action that are signed at Trump's discretion.

7. Launch a nuclear strike against, I don't know, let's say Toronto or something.

While the president does need congressional approval to go to war, the only person who currently gets to decide whether to launch a nuclear strike is Donald J. Trump.
Wolfgang Kaehler / Getty Images

While the president does need congressional approval to go to war, the only person who currently gets to decide whether to launch a nuclear strike is Donald J. Trump.

8. Spill top-secret information to Russian diplomats.

Totally legal, sure, but a political nightmare.
Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Totally legal, sure, but a political nightmare.

NOTE: We asked some very patient experts in presidential powers for help in compiling this list.

Professor Jon D. Michaels at UCLA's law school noted that while these actions could technically be legal, they could still be used as the basis for impeachment proceedings in congress, which would be driven by political considerations.

"Impeachment has a judicial characteristic, but it's largely political," he said. "The definition of high crimes and misdemeanors would be defined by Congress."

Steven Aftergood, the director of the project on government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, said, "At some point the other components of our system of government are supposed to kick in, and block, defund, outlaw, impeach or otherwise restrain the president."

ADVERTISEMENT