Politics

Pelosi Presidential Pardon Promise Baffles Legal Analysts, Draws Scorn Among GOP Strategists

News Analysis

Constitutional law experts and legal analysts across the political spectrum challenged Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosis promise on July 11 to introduce legislation limiting a Presidents power to pardon.

Pelosis promise followed President Donald Trumps commutation Friday of the 40-month prison sentence of Roger Stone, the flamboyant political provocateur, who was to report to a federal facility July 14 to begin serving his time.

Trumps action did not reverse Stones seven felony convictions but may have been motivated by a federal appeals courts previous reversal of his request to delay his reporting to jail.

More than 94,000 inmates have been released from jails across the country due to concerns about their susceptibility to the CCP Virus. The 67-year-old Stone argued unsuccessfully that his age and poor health made him even more susceptible to the disease, so forcing him to jail now could be a death sentence.

Significant procedural questions—especially the credibility of the jury forewoman, a former Democratic candidate for Congress—surround Stones prosecution on multiple charges, including witness tampering, obstructing an official congressional investigation, and making false statements to Congress.

But Attorney General William Barr declared Stones conviction was a “righteous prosecution” and he recommended against commuting the sentence.

“President Trumps 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 her statement Saturday.

“Congress will take action to prevent this type of brazen wrong-doing. 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 the President from criminal prosecution,” she said.

Pardon Power

The problem for Pelosi is the Constitution gives no power to Congress to limit presidential pardons, so she opened herself up to withering criticism by promising such legislation.

Former Assistant Attorney General Joseph A. Morris told The Epoch Times there is no question about the pardon power. Morris is also a former chief counsel for two federal agencies.

“The Presidents powers of pardon and clemency with respect to prosecutions and convictions for federal crimes are virtually unbounded. They are vested exclusively in the President, and they are not subject to limitation or command by Congress,” Morris said.

“The pardon clause, U.S. Const. art. II, § 2, cl. 1, authorizes the President to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

“The Supreme Court has stated,” Morris said, “that [t]he plain purpose of the broad power conferred by § 2, cl. 1, was to allow plenary authority in the President to forgive the convicted person in part or entirely.” (Schick v. Reed, 419 U.S. 256, 266 (1974).)

Similarly, George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley, a Democrat who opposed Trump in 2016 and previously voted for Democratic Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, tweeted “the fact is that Pelosis proposal would be dead-on-arrival at the courts.”

Turley, who said he opposed commuting Stones sentence, detailed his argument in an op-ed in The Hill, saying “the commutation of Stone barely stands out in the old gallery of White House pardons, which are the most consistently and openly abused power in the Constitution. This authority under Article Two is stated in absolute terms, and some presidents have wielded it with absolute abandon.”

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