July 11, 2019

Cortez Masto, Blumenthal Introduce Legislation to Prevent the President from Abusing Pardon Powers

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced the Abuse of the Pardon Prevention Act to ensure transparency and accountability in the pardon process in cases involving investigations of the President or his relatives.  

“President Trump has repeatedly touted his ‘absolute power to pardon’, even when considering self-serving pardons for close personal, business and campaign associates - many of whom are currently embroiled in federal investigations,” said Cortez Masto. We need more transparency in the pardon process to ensure that justice isn’t being obstructed. Both Congress and the American people deserve access to detailed, objective information to understand whether a president is using the pardon power to protect himself or those loyal to him.”

“This bill ensures transparency in the pardon process, codifying a strong deterrent against the president weaponizing the pardon power to protect himself or his allies,” said Blumenthal. “The pardon power isn’t a political weapon or a license to obstruct justice. And yet President Trump has repeatedly indicated that he may use the power of the pardon to protect his personal business and political associates.”

In addition to Senators Cortez Masto and Blumenthal, Senators Robert P. Casey (D-Penn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) also cosponsored this legislation.

Full text of the bill is available here.


The Abuse of the Pardon Prevention Act would require the Justice Department to provide all records of the relevant investigation to the appropriate congressional committees in the event a President pardons someone in connection with an investigation in which the President or one of his family members is a target, subject, or witness. The creation of this mandatory disclosure requirement would create a powerful disincentive for any president who wishes to use the pardon power as an instrument of obstruction in an ongoing investigation. It ensures Congress has the opportunity to assess whether there may have been a conflict of interest or other impropriety involved in granting any pardon issued in a case in which the President or his family is directly involved.