The United States Constitution vests the President with "power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment." Although Virginia delegate Edmund Randolph raised concerns about the executive branch possibly abusing the pardon power to conceal criminal conduct at the Constitutional Convention, Randolph's colleagues relied upon the presumption that a president would not break the law and defeated his motion to limit presidential pardon power to cases of treason. Recently, the scandalous Iran-Contra affair has demonstrated that, contrary to the Framers' expectations, presidents may circumvent or directly violate federal laws.
James N. Jorgensen,
Federal Executive Clemency Power: The President's Prerogative to Escape Accountability,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol27/iss2/10