President Trump defended his decision to commute the sentence of longtime confidant and GOP political operative Roger Stone on Saturday, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) indicated the House would move to pass legislation that would limit the power of the president to pardon people “engaged in a cover-up campaign to shield that president from criminal prosecution.”
Stone was days away from serving a 40-month jail sentence for seven felony crimes, including lying to Congress and witness tampering in his attempt to obstruct former Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation.
In a tweet on Saturday, Trump said Stone was the subject of an “illegal witch hunt that never should have taken place”:
Pelosi indicated the House would go a step further and attempt to pass legislation limiting the pardon power in cases that could implicate the president:
It’s unclear whether Congress would have the ability to enact such legislation as the Constitution grants broad pardon powers to the president and the bill would likely face blowback from the Republican-controlled Senate and Trump.
Schiff suggested Congress might instead “enact a whole series of post-Watergate reforms” when Trump leaves office, including a bill that would limit the president’s pardoning power
The Founders granted broad pardon power to the president in the Constitution and included impeachment as the only check on that power. In 1788, James Madison said: “If the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds to believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty.”
“Roger Stone is a victim of the Russia Hoax that the Left and its allies in the media perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump Presidency,” the White House statement said in a statement on Friday.
“By refusing to hold President Trump accountable, the Republican Party bears responsibility for his lawlessness,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.