Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) announced plans to propose an amendment to the Constitution—to keep President Trump from pardoning individual’s indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe—into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin [government officials].
On Monday, The Hill reported that Cohen seeks to limit Trump’s pardoning power under his proposal and will introduce the plan on Tuesday.
Cohen’s amendment centers on forbidding presidents from pardoning themselves, their families, members of their own administration or people who worked on their presidential campaigns. The ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, plans to formally propose the amendment when the House returns to session.
“The indictment of Paul Manafort, who served as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman last year, accelerates the need to pass a Constitutional amendment limiting a president’s pardoning authority,” Cohen said in a statement on Monday. “The indictment makes clear that some of Manafort’s activities took place while he was working on the Trump campaign so the need is clear and present.”
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) proposes constitutional amendment to limit Trump’s pardon power. Photo credit: Politico
The often outspoken Congressman—on the heels of the Manafort and Gates indictment—announced plans to move forward with an amendment [to the Constitution] to address possible Trump pardons related to the Mueller investigation. Rep. Cohen [made headlines for introducing articles of impeachment against President Trump] in August of this year.
The indictment makes clear that some of Manafort’s activities took place while he was working on the Trump campaign so the need is clear and present.
The Manafort and Gates indictment contains 12 counts: conspiracy against the United States., conspiracy to launder money, serving as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading Foreign Agents Registration Act statements, false statements and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.
Former Campaign Advisor George Papadopoulos plead guilty to lying to FBI officials about his relationship with a Russia. The Papadopoulos plea significant to the Mueller probe represents possible damning evidence that the Trump campaign was aware of Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election and efforts to help Trump.
Trump’s first presidential pardon for renowned racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty of refusing a judge’s order to stop racially profiling Latino motorists sent ripples through communities and the airwaves.
Joe Arpaio served for 24 years as sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., building a national reputation for harsh conditions in his county jail, and for his campaign against undocumented immigrants. Credit Courtney Pedroza for The New York Times
A question of whether the president “abused pardon power” seemingly did not escape many concerned Americans. Trump’s pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, and its message suggests a much cruder view of the pardon power, and sets a dangerous precedent for the months to come.
Cohen shared his views on social media asserting how the proposed amendment could impact future presidents:
— Steve Cohen (@RepCohen) October 31, 2017
As visionaries—the Framers were perhaps aware of the impending danger. In the Virginia constitutional ratification debates, George Mason criticized the pardon power, arguing that the president “may frequently pardon crimes which were advised by himself,” and so “destroy the republic.” James Madison replied that if there were grounds to believe that the president would use the pardon to “shelter” a person with whom he was “connected, in any suspicious manner,” then Congress could impeach him.
Federal courts can also intercede upon a president’s abuse of the pardon power. To be sure, the Supreme Court has not held a presidential pardon invalid since 1915, and under different circumstances. But the Justices have hinted from time to time that at least some clemency decisions might be open to challenge, and advocates are making solid legal arguments about why the Arpaio pardon crosses a constitutional line.
By LeNora Millen 11-01-17
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