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Nadler, House Dems to push legislation to counter Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s sentence

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Angered by President Donald Trump’s commutation of the 40-month prison sentence of longtime friend and associate Roger Stone, House Democrats are planning to introduce two pieces of legislation aimed at curbing presidential pardon power.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), announced that the panel will hold a mark-up session on a pair of bills Thursday.

“The first, H.R. 1627, the Abuse of the Pardon Power Prevention Act, will allow us a measure of transparency into the President’s power to pardon federal crimes and commute federal sentences,” Nadler said.

“If the president uses the powers of his office to shield himself and his family from federal investigations, then the investigators at the Department of Justice should provide us with the materials related to the underlying offense.”

The second piece of legislation pertains to a statute of limitations on any crimes that a president may have committed while in office.

“The second bill we will consider, H.R. 2678, the No President is Above the Law Act, is also straightforward,” Nadler said. “While the president is in office, we should pause the clock on the statute of limitations for any crimes he may have committed. Re-election should not be a get-out-of-jail-free card.”

Earlier this month, the White House announced that because of an “unjust sentence,” President Trump decided to commute Stone’s sentence. He was scheduled to report to federal prison July 14.

The Constitution grants presidents near-unlimited pardon power. Article II, Sect. 2 states presidents “shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”

Stone was sentenced in February after being convicted in November 2019 on seven counts of witness tampering, obstruction, and making false statements to Congress. He appealed his conviction and denies that he did anything wrong.

Stone was the last person charged and convicted by special counsel Robert Mueller, whose initial mandate was to investigate alleged ‘collusion’ between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia. His prosecutorial team determined that no collusion occurred.

The president routinely characterized the allegation of collusion and Mueller’s subsequent investigation as a “hoax,” which is apparently accurate, given newly uncovered evidence that the FBI doubted the reliability of an anti-Trump “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele, as well as the former British spy himself, as early as 2015.

As for Stone, he contends that his trial was a sham and that the jury forewoman, a one-time Democratic elected office contender, was biased, as evidenced by previous social media posts. Constitutional and legal experts agreed that he should have gotten a new trial, but the federal judge in the case, Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee, denied his request.

Democrats have fumed about President Trump’s commutation of Stone for weeks, vowing to retaliate in some way.

“Stone misled federal investigators, intimidated witnesses, and was convicted for obstruction of justice—but would not testify to the President’s wrongdoing,” Nadler said in a statement.

“In exchange, President Trump made sure that Stone will never spend a day in prison. This quid pro quo is unacceptable. Congress must act,” he added.

That said, the Mueller investigation into the president and his associates found no evidence of criminality on the part of the president, though in his final report, he hinted that Trump could be guilty of “obstruction of justice.”

Rather than state clearly that his investigators did not find any evidence of obstruction, Mueller’s final report stated only that he did not make any determination on that allegation and left it to the Justice Department to decide.

Jon Dougherty

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