House Judiciary issues subpoena for information on Trump offer of pardons

The head of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday subpoenaed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for documents related to allegations that President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: LeBron James's 'racist rants' are divisive, nasty North Carolina man accused of fraudulently obtaining .5M in PPP loans Biden announces picks to lead oceans, lands agencies MORE promised pardons to officials who carry out orders connected to construction of a wall at the southern border that could be illegal.

Judiciary Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerHillicon Valley: Tech companies duke it out at Senate hearing | Seven House Republicans vow to reject donations from Big Tech Wyden-Paul bill would close loophole allowing feds to collect private data Jim Jordan, Val Demings get in shouting match about police during hearing MORE (D-N.Y.) asked Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan in the subpoena to provide documents related to two meetings in March and April of this year between Trump and DHS officials where the topic of pardons reportedly came up, giving him a deadline of Sept. 17.

“The dangling of pardons by the President to encourage government officials to violate federal law would constitute another reported example of the President’s disregard for the rule of law," Nadler said in a statement.


A spokesman for DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Washington Post in September reported that Trump had offered pardons to officials should they break the law to get border barriers built more quickly, reportedly telling officials when discussing the wall: "Don't worry, I'll pardon you." At the time, a White House official did not deny that Trump had made the remarks, but said he was joking. 

Nadler said the committee will examine the possible dangling of pardons as part of his panel's sprawling investigation into obstruction, public corruption and other abuses of power. The New York Democrat also linked the behavior to the president's conduct laid out in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE's investigation, which examined nearly a dozen episodes of possible obstruction by Trump.

"Such a troubling pattern of obstruction of justice would represent a continuation of the misconduct identified in the Mueller Report," Nadler's statement continued. “In the coming months the Committee intends to hold hearings and conduct additional oversight related to the issue of pardons as we move forward with our investigation into obstruction of justice, public corruption, and abuses of power by the President."

Under the subpoena, Democrats are asking DHS to provide documents and communications referring to presidential pardons to see whether there were "potential violations of federal law relating to the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws or the construction of a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border." 

Nadler said this subpoena is part of Democrats' efforts to determine whether to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump.

Trump has stated that it is a top priority in his administration to build a roughly 500-mile wall along the southern border with Mexico, which was key campaign promise he repeatedly made during the 2016 presidential election. 

The subpoena also comes as the Judiciary committee's already sprawling probe is burgeoning to include a range of other issues that Nadler says will help Democrats determine whether to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump. 

The New York Democrat is also using the date of the 17th to set up a possible showdown with the Trump administration by setting the deadline of the McAleenan subpoena deadline to be the same day as several other subpoenas, including congressional testimonies from former campaign manager Corey LewandowskiCorey LewandowskiThe Memo: The mystery of post-presidency Trump Trump frustrated with pace of super PAC Dozens of Trump appointees 'burrow' into Biden government MORE, former Trump officials Rick Dearborn and Rob Porter.

The congressional order comes as the White House has repeatedly blocked the committee from receiving testimony from current and former administration officials — something Democrats are seeking to challenge in court. 

Updated: 5:25 p.m.