A new bill would stop Trump from pardoning his way out of trouble.
“If the president can abuse his powers to insulate himself and endanger the health of our democracy, it needs to be exposed, at least to Congress so that Congress can determine whether that extraordinary remedy of impeachment is warranted,” Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff explained. “We introduced this bill to deter the abuse of the pardon power. What this bill says is that if a president were to pardon someone who is involved in an investigation, where the president is a target, a witness, or a subject, that those entire investigative files will be provided to Congress.”
The bill was introduced on the same day that Paul Manafort was sentenced for his illegal actions— something Schiff says was not a coincidence.
“There was reporting last year that the president, through his attorney John Dowd, may be dangling a pardon in front of Manafort or [ex-Trump adviser Michael Flynn] or others,” he explained. “So this is not a theoretical problem at all, but one that we hope the bill will discourage.”
Paul Manafort was Trump’s campaign chairman. He was sentenced to 47 months in prison for bank and tax fraud. He faces up to a decade more for other crimes if he doesn’t get pardoned.
“That is not how our system is designed to work. Some people say the pardon power is absolute. It’s not absolute. None of the powers in the Constitution are absolute,” Schiff said. “You can’t use the power of the pardon to effectively negate other parts of the Constitution and so this bill is an effort to discourage its abuse.”