In the 5th season of House of Cards, Frank Underwood's plan is to have the new president (his wife) pardon both himself and Doug Stamper. While I can understand on what grounds the President would pardon Frank (Nixon and Walker were likewise pardoned in the show's timeline), I can't imagine what would be the justification for pardoning a confessed murderer.

So what is the implied rationale for pardoning Doug Stamper?

  • The President doesn't need a reason. He can pardon pretty much whoever he wants. It's the fallout that's the issue and Frank doesn't seem to care about that,
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 15:05
  • @Paulie_D yes, it's the fallout that seems absolutely unsustainable to me. Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 15:06
  • 1
    But it's an act of desparation...they have no other choice. It's not a good plan but it's better than nothing. Although it will depend on what crime Doug is actually charged with. Presidential Pardons only apply to Federal Crimes and a murder is unlikely to meet that criteria. But perhaps that is dramatic licence.
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 15:09

1 Answer 1


First of all, the president can pardon whoever he/she wants; they don't need justification. Frank sees the pardon as a trade-off. In his eyes, Claire's reputation will suffer a bit (even though she can pull some b.s. like how Doug is invaluable, vital, etc etc) but ultimately with his help in the private sector, he can help bring her reputation back. Also, Claire is the first female president and there is a lot of momentum that she carries when she enters the office. There will definitely be people who will criticize the pardon, but with her momentum, she can just let this blow over and move on.

Of course, there is the alternative opinion that Frank is selfish and doesn't care about Claire's reputation. But I doubt this is the case because if he is going to be effective in the "private sector" he needs Claire to be popular and powerful.

Just my two cents.

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