Hours after President Donald Trump doubled down on his claim that he has the authority to pardon himself should he be found guilty of any crime, Democrats in the House moved to force a vote on a resolution to demand White House records on the president's use of his pardon power.
.@realDonaldTrump recently stated that he has the "absolute right" to pardon himself - we beg to differ. That's why w/ @BillPascrell we've introduced H.Res. 928, a Resolution of Inquiry into Trump's dangerous abuse of pardon power. More on our bill here: https://t.co/2pHQ7vINAw. pic.twitter.com/POeSaTSsXg
— Rep. Ted Lieu (@RepTedLieu) June 8, 2018
Executive pardon power, said Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) in a joint statement about their resolution, "was not meant to be a weapon for the President to use to undermine justice. This President has repeatedly sought to do just that."
The resolution of inquiry demands that the White House release all documents, recordings, and communications regarding Trump's use of the pardon, particularly for former advisers Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and others who have been charged or pleaded guilty after being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The resolution also asks for information on any discussion the president has had about his right to pardon himself.
The House Judiciary Committee has 14 days to consider the resolution, after which it can be brought to the floor for a vote.
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"Congressional Republicans have refused to exercise a hair of oversight" regarding Trump's use of the pardon, said Lieu and Pascrell.
On Wednesday, after reporters asked about Trump's assertion that he can legally pardon himself, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) said only, "I think obviously the answer is he shouldn't."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been even less clear about his view, saying Tuesday, "I don't think the president needs any advice on pardoning himself. He obviously knows that's not something he would or should do."
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was also recorded this week pausing for 18 seconds after being asked about the president's statements and then claiming he was unfamiliar with presidential pardon power despite having graduated from Harvard Law School and serving in the U.S. Senate for five years.
"House Judiciary Committee Democrats have repeatedly called for hearings on pardons and this week wrote to White House Counsel Don McGahn demanding information on the President's pardon decisions," said Lieu and Pascrell. "Our Resolution of Inquiry builds on these efforts. The Resolution directs Attorney General Jeff Sessions to provide the House with any records relating to any pardon Donald Trump has issued or has considered issuing. It will ensure that the American people learn more about Trump’s abuses of this sacred power before it's too late."