A leading Democrat said he expects the House will conduct new investigations into President Donald Trump’s recent prison sentence commutations and pardons, despite the fact that under the Constitution, he has authority to grant them.
“I mean, we will, of course, I expect, have hearings on this,” Rep. David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat, told CNN.
“There’s a process that the president is expected to follow in granting pardons or granting clemency. We’ll try to bring attention to this issue on behalf of the American people. We will continue to do oversight,” he added.
One of the commutations that Trump granted this week was former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s prison sentence, where he was eight years into a 14-year sentence after being convicted on corruption charges.
Four out of the last 10 Illinois governors have been convicted of corruption charges, and Blagojevich’s sentence was the longest ever handed out to a politician from the state.
In addition, the president granted a pardon to former NFL owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., former NYPD police commissioner Bernard Kerik, “junk bond king” Michael Milken, and several others.
While Democrats decry Trump’s pardons, Democratic President Bill Clinton issued a pardon for his brother in 2001 on his way out of the White House. Roger Clinton had been serving time for a federal drug conviction.
“Presidential pardon power is enshrined in the Constitution and has been wielded ever since President George Washington’s 1795 pardon of two men involved in the infamous Whiskey Rebellion,” FindLaw notes.
The power is enshrined in Article II, Sect. 2, which states, “[The President] shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.”
FindLaw noted, “Since the Constitution refers to ‘offenses against the United States,’ the President’s power to pardon is limited to federal offenses only,” as defined by federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court.