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Protect Democracy statement on pardon dangled for CBP commissioner by President Trump

Media reports on April 12, 2019 that President Trump dangled a pardon for Kevin McAleenan, head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, should he end up in prison for violating U.S. immigration laws as the President encouraged him to do, reveal once again that Trump remains poised to make unconstitutional use of his pardon power.

Aditi Juneja, an attorney with Protect Democracy, made the following statement:

“The Framers intended the presidential pardon power to provide mercy in cases where mercy serves justice. If the President could use the pardon power as a tool to pursue an unlawful agenda, we would have a king and not a President. The President’s behavior makes clear the need for Congress to conduct oversight into his use of the pardon power and pass Congressman Schiff’s Abuse of the Pardon Prevention Act to facilitate that oversight.”

Background

Today’s news follows recent reports that the President has dangled pardons in an effort to interfere with investigations into himself and his campaign–particularly to Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn. Last month, lawyers for George Papadopoulos, the first person charged with a crime in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, applied for a presidential pardon for their client.

This pattern of behavior suggests that the President is abusing his pardon power, not using it to serve the cause of justice. Below are resources you may find useful in your reporting on the presidential pardon power.

  • Protect Democracy’s letter in support of the Abuse of Pardons Prevention Act
  • Our memo to Congress explaining the constitutional limitations on the pardon power
  • A one-pager on the constitutional limitations on the pardon power, produced with a coalition of 10 organizations from across the political spectrum
  • A Washington Post op-ed on the potential of a Manafort pardon, co-authored by Protect Democracy Legal Director Justin Florence and Paul Rosenzweig of R Street

Please contact Nanya Springer at Nanya.Springer@protectdemocracy.org to speak with Protect Democracy’s attorneys, who can brief you further on this subject.