Court Battles

Barrett declines to say if Trump can pardon himself

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett declined to say on Tuesday if President Trump can pardon himself or if he should be required to disclose his debts.  

“That would be a legal question. That would be a constitutional question and so in keeping with my obligation not to give hints, previews or forecasts of how I would resolve the case, that’s not one I can answer,” Barrett told Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who asked if she believed Trump is able to pardon himself for any past or future crimes.  

Trump said in 2018 that he had an “absolute right” to pardon himself, a statement that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and then-House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) distanced themselves from at the time.

At the time of Trump’s tweet, the investigation into his 2016 presidential election campaign and Russia’s election interference was still ongoing. 

Booker also asked if Barrett believed Trump should disclose his personal debt. A New York Times bombshell report last month found that the president has personal debt exceeding $400 million, most of which is coming due in the next few years. 

Booker’s questions, coming several hours into the Judiciary Committee’s Q&A, is one of several involving Trump. 

Booker also asked if a president should commit to a peaceful transition of power. 

Barrett initially sidestepped the question, saying that Booker seemed to be “pulling me in a little bit of this question” about if Trump has said he will peacefully hand over power if he loses in next month’s election. 

“To the extent that this is a political controversy right now, as a judge I want to stay out of it,” she said. 

When Booker asked again if a president should commit themselves to a peaceful transition of power, Barrett called the peaceful handover in the wake of an election “one of the beauties of America.”  

“One of the beauties of America from the beginning of the Republic is that we have had peaceful transitions of power and that disappointed voters have accepted the new leaders that come into office,” Barrett said. 

“That’s not true in every country. And I think that is part of the genius of our Constitution and the good faith and good will of the American people that we haven’t had the situations that have arisen in so many other countries where those issues have been present,” Barrett added. 

Tags Cory Booker Donald Trump Mitch McConnell Paul Ryan peaceful transition of power presidential pardon Supreme Court nominee

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