April 26, 2018

Cortez Masto Introduces Legislation to Increase Transparency of Presidential Pardons

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

“I am deeply troubled by indications that President Trump may use his pardon powers as a tool to obstruct justice or derail ongoing investigations against his campaign, businesses and personal associations,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “This bill would give Congress and the public the ability and opportunity to assess whether the pardon power has been exercised appropriately, or in the self-interest of the President and his family.”  

“President Trump has repeatedly indicated that he may use the power of the pardon to protect his personal business and political associates – obstructing an ongoing investigation and undermining the rule of law,” Senator Blumenthal said. “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.” 

U.S. Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives.

“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,” said Representative Schiff. “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.”

BACKGROUND:

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 Justice Department would be required to provide all records of the investigation to the appropriate congressional committees within 30 days.

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.  

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