House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-NY) is seeking to have Congress limit the president’s pardon powers after President Trump commuted the prison sentence of Roger Stone.
“President Trump’s decision to commute the sentence of top campaign advisor Roger Stone, who could directly implicate him in criminal misconduct, is an act of staggering corruption,” Pelosi said in a statement Saturday. “Congress will take action to prevent this type of brazen wrongdoing. Legislation is needed to ensure that no President can pardon or commute the sentence of an individual who is engaged in a cover-up campaign to shield that President from criminal prosecution.”
President Trump on Friday commuted Stone sentence shortly after a federal appeals court denied his emergency motion to delay the start of his prison term. Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison after a jury convicted him on charges of lying to Congress and witness tampering in connection to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. The longtime confidant of President Trump was scheduled to report to prison on July 14.
“Roger Stone’s seven felony crimes, which include lying to Congress and witness tampering, constitute grave crimes. All who commit these illegal acts should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Pelosi said. “This decision and Trump’s many other acts of corruption point to the urgency of electing a President in November who will respect the Constitution, the rule of law and the will of the American people.”
The California Democrat first mentioned recommending a law to prevent Trump from exerting his constitutional power Friday evening during an interview with CNN host Anderson Cooper.
“For the president to be able to issue a pardon on the basis of a crime that the person committed assisting the president is ridiculous, and there ought to be a law,” Pelosi said to CNN. “And I’m recommending that we pass a law that presidents cannot issue a pardon if the crime that the person is in jail for is one that is caused by protecting the president, which this was. It’s appalling.”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany released a statement announcing that Trump signed an executive grant of clemency commuting Stone’s “unjust” sentence and depicting him as “a victim of the Russia Hoax that the Left and its allies in the media perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump Presidency.”
“Stone charged by overzealous prosecutors pursuing a case that never should have existed, and arrested in an operation that never should have been approved,” the statement reads. “At this time, however, and particularly in light of the egregious facts and circumstances surrounding his unfair prosecution, arrest, and trial, the President has determined to commute his sentence. Roger Stone has already suffered greatly. He was treated very unfairly, as were many others in this case. Roger Stone is now a free man!”
Under Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, the president has the power to grant clemency in the form of a commutation of sentence, remission of a fine or restitution, and a reprieve except in cases of impeachment.
This isn’t the first time House Democrats have introduced a bill regarding President Trump pardons. In 2019, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced the Abuse of the Pardon Prevention Act that would mandate U.S. Attorney General to give relevant congressional committees “all materials of an investigation that were obtained by a United States Attorney, another Federal prosecutor, or an investigative authority of the Federal Government, relating to the offense for which the individual is so pardoned.”
The yet-to-be-introduced bill limiting President Trump’s ability to grant clemency has no chance of passing in the Senate.