Pelosi plans legislation to limit pardons, commutations after Roger Stone move

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is seeking to limit the president’s pardon powers after President Trump commuted the sentence of longtime adviser Roger Stone on Friday.

“President Trump’s 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 a statement Saturday.

She added, “Congress will take action to prevent this type of brazen wrongdoing. 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 that President from criminal prosecution.”

Stone, who acted as a campaign adviser for Trump during the 2016 election cycle, was convicted of multiple crimes, including witness tampering and lying to Congress. He openly lobbied Trump for clemency, as his three-year prison sentence was set to begin July 14.

Trump has long maintained that Stone, 67, was the victim of a political witch hunt. 

“Roger Stone has already suffered greatly. He was treated very unfairly, as were many others in this case. Roger Stone is now a free man,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.

Stone was the last of a half-dozen Trump associates to be charged in connection with former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. While Mueller didn’t find sufficient evidence to charge the president’s campaign associates with conspiring with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election, he did conclude that the campaign welcomed Russia’s election interference efforts.

Legislation limiting the president’s ability to grant clemency has no chance of passing while the Republicans control the Senate. It’s also not entirely clear if Congress has the constitutional authority to limit the president’s pardon power. Under the Constitution, the president is able to execute a pardon except in cases of impeachment.

The yet-to-be-introduced bill will join legislation introduced by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) in 2019 that would mandate greater transparency between the White House and Congress regarding pardons.

The proposed law would force the U.S. attorney general to give leadership of the relevant congressional committees “all materials of an investigation that were obtained by a United States Attorney, another Federal prosecutor, or an investigative authority of the Federal Government, relating to the offense for which the individual is so pardoned.”