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 SessionsA better way to run the Federal Bureau of Prisons Trump admin erases key environmental enforcement tool DOJ should take action against China's Twitter propaganda MORE on Wednesday defended President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future 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.