House Judiciary Dems question White House counsel on Trump pardons

House Judiciary Dems question White House counsel on Trump pardons
© Greg Nash

A group of House Democrats wrote to White House counsel Don McGahn on Wednesday seeking clarity on President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rips Dems' demands, impeachment talk: 'Witch Hunt continues!' Nevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push MORE's approach to his pardon power as he has ramped up his use of the authority in recent weeks.

In the letter, Democrats from the House Judiciary Committee expressed concerns to McGahn about Trump’s pardon decisions thus far, and took issue with the president's claim this week that he has "the absolute right" to pardon himself.

Trump has thus far issued five pardons, including for the late heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson, conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza, and former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was a vocal campaign supporter.

“There is no indication that the Office of the Pardon Attorney at the Department of Justice recommended these cases to the president,” the lawmakers wrote.

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“Second, in each of these cases, the central figure was accused of making some deliberate and material misstatement to the government,” they continued. “Both of these are patterns for concern.”

The lawmakers listed more than a dozen questions for McGahn focused on a range of subjects. Roughly half of the questions honed in on recent comments from Trump and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, about the president's power to pardon himself.

Democrats on the Judiciary panel asked McGahn if he agrees with Trump's claim, and if he believes that the president is above the law.

Additionally, they asked McGahn if he’d spoken with Trump about any individuals who are under consideration for a pardon, or if he’d consulted with the president about any of the five individuals who already received pardons.

They also asked if Trump has discussed pardoning any of his former associates who are facing criminal charges, including Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn and Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortRoger Stone considers suing to discover if he was spied on by FBI Ukrainian who meddled against Trump in 2016 is now under Russia-corruption cloud Feds ask judge to postpone ex-Trump campaign aide's sentencing MORE.

The Democrats asked McGahn to respond to their inquiries by June 20. 

The letter was sent the same day Trump decided to commute the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a 62-year-old woman who was serving a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense. 

Kim Kardashian West visited the White House last week to speak with Trump about Johnson’s case.

The Trump administration is considering dozens more clemency cases, White House sources said on Wednesday.