The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee isn’t fooling around after Donald Trump appeared to tout his pardoning powers, apparently signaling to his cohorts that he’s got their backs. Trump pardoned Scooter Libby, the former Dick Cheney aide convicted of lying to the FBI in an investigation into the leak of the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame. Libby was initially sentenced to 30 months in prison and a $250,000 fine but did not have to serve jail time after former President George W. Bush commuted his sentence. But even Bush refused to grant him a full pardon.
On Wednesday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif) introduced legislation aimed at dissuading Trump from pardoning people involved in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
After Trump pardoned Libby, Schiff introduced the Abuse of Pardon Prevention Act which does not try to strip Trump of his constitutional power to grant pardons, but it seeks to deter the current so-called president — and any future presidents — from granting a pardon in any investigation where the president or a member of his family is a witness, subject or target.
Trump is a subject of the Russia probe and his son, Donald Trump Jr., and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have testified as witnesses.
“President Trump already has signaled that he is willing to use his constitutional powers in order to protect those who remain loyal to him, even if they are convicted of obstruction or perjury,” Schiff said in a statement. “By pardoning Scooter Libby last week, Trump has sent a clear and unmistakable message to potential witnesses against him or members of his family that: ‘if you have my back, I’ll have yours.’”
“At a time of constitutional peril, it is incumbent on the Congress to stand up for the rule of law by creating a strong disincentive to the president issuing pardons to protect himself and obstruct ongoing investigations,” he said.
With Republicans holding a majority in the House, it’s unlikely Schiff’s legislation will pass. As for the Senate, that’s a problem, too, with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell refusing to put legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller on the floor.
Mark this date: November 6, 2018. That’s when Democrats will take Republicans to the woodshed.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.
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