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Sessions defends Trump’s power to pardon without consulting Justice Dept

Sessions defends Trump’s power to pardon without consulting Justice Dept
© Greg Nash

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsGOP former US attorneys back Biden, say Trump 'threat to rule of law' Biden fact checks Trump on 545 families separated at border, calls policy 'criminal' Harris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears MORE on Wednesday defended President TrumpDonald John TrumpHillary Clinton responds to Chrissy Teigen tweet: 'I love you back' Police called after Florida moms refuse to wear face masks at school board meeting about mask policy Supreme Court rejects Trump effort to shorten North Carolina mail-ballot deadline MORE’s right to pardon people without first consulting with the Justice Department. 

"It's clearly within the power of the president to execute pardons without the pardon attorney," Sessions said at a Senate subcommittee hearing, The Associated Press reported.

The comment was in reference to Trump’s pardon of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former Bush administration official I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

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Trump pardoned both men without involving the Justice Department and its pardon attorney, the office that usually advises the president on pardons and commutations.

Sessions specifically defended Trump's decisions to pardon Arpaio and Libby, noting that Arpaio — a former Arizona sheriff found guilty of contempt of court — had been charged with a misdemeanor and is 85, and that Libby — former Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff who was found guilty of leaking the identity of a covert CIA official — had “contributed greatly to America.”

The comments come amid speculation that Trump may use his pardoning power for former associates currently under federal investigation, such as his personal attorney Michael Cohen.