Schiff pushes bill to review any Trump pardons in Russia probe

Schiff pushes bill to review any Trump pardons in Russia probe
© Greg Nash

California Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffCourt filings show Trump, Cohen contacts amid hush money payments House passes annual intelligence bill Judge finds Stone violated gag order, blocks him from using social media MORE (D) has introduced a bill that would give Congress oversight of any pardon that President TrumpDonald John TrumpCould Donald Trump and Boris Johnson be this generation's Reagan-Thatcher? Merkel backs Democratic congresswomen over Trump How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade MORE grants to a subject of the Russia investigation or to a member of his family.

In the event that Trump pardons someone connected to the Russia prbe, Schiff's bill, known as the Abuse of the Pardon Prevention Act, would require the Justice Department to turn the case files for the investigation over to the House Judiciary Committee.

If the case file contains classified information, it would also be supplied to the House Intelligence Committee.

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Schiff told USA Today that the impetus of his bill was Trump's decision last week to pardon I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, an aide to the Bush administration convicted of lying to the FBI in an investigation into the leak of the identity of a CIA agent.

"It would allow Congress to determine whether a pardon is an effort to obstruct justice," Schiff told the newspaper. "I think it would have the effect of discouraging a pardon used for the purpose of shielding the president or his family from prosecution."

In the release, Schiff called the possibility of Trump granting a pardon to subjects of the Russia investigation "unsettling." Several former members of Trump's campaign, including former chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortWebb: Questions for Robert Mueller Top Mueller prosecutor Zainab Ahmad joins law firm Gibson Dunn Russian oligarch's story could spell trouble for Team Mueller MORE and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, have been caught up in charges amid the investigation.

"There are unsettling indications that President Trump could use the expansive pardon power granted by the Constitution as an instrument to undermine the Special Counsel’s investigation and other investigations into his business, family or his associates," Schiff writes.

"At a time of constitutional peril, it is incumbent on the Congress to stand up for the rule of law by creating a strong disincentive to the President issuing pardons to protect himself and obstruct ongoing investigations.”

Trump last week issued the pardon of Libby, whom he said was treated "unfairly."

"I don’t know Mr. Libby," Trump said in a statement. "But for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly. Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life."