Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., walks through the Senate Reception Room following the weekly policy luncheon with Senate Democrats on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
With impeachment fading everywhere but inside the beltway, Democrat senators are hard at work finding something new to make an issue of when it comes to President Trump.
Over the past few weeks, there’s been a steady flow of news involving Trump’s pardoning of three military members. Each case is fairly different from the other, with the most high profile being that of Eddie Gallagher. You may recall that Gallagher was mostly acquitted after a heated military trial that included plenty of prosecutorial misconduct and someone else admitting to the supposed crime. In the end, Gallagher was only convicted of posing for a picture with a dead terrorist. The President decided to then pardon him and restore his rank, which was automatically reduced upon that single conviction.
While it seemed like the brunt of the controversy was over for a moment, some in Naval leadership couldn’t let it go and sought to bust Gallagher again, this time by taking his SEAL trident. There are a lot more twists and turns, so be sure to check out some of the other articles here at RedState on the matter, as it’s still an ongoing issue.
Regardless of the details, the left obviously needed something to complain about and since we live in the era of orange man bad where normal delegated powers don’t apply to Trump, that led to two Democrat senators sending an angry letter to the DOJ about the pardons.
Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, are pressing the Department of Justice to answer questions about President Trump’s pardons of U.S. soldiers accused of war crimes.
The Democratic senators want to know whether the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney was involved in the decisions to pardon soldiers accused of unlawful military executions, including fatal shootings of unarmed civilians.
They also asked whether the Justice Department issued any advice or recommendations to the White House and whether it coordinated at all with the Department of Defense, where senior officials were initially opposed to the pardons.
Let me help these senators out. The DOJ’s Office of the Pardon Attorney holds no statutory authority over the President. They do not have to be involved in any decision the President makes. The DOJ also does not have to make recommendations, but if they did, that’s also well within their rights. As to the Pentagon, they as well do not hold statutory authority over the President.
Long story short, Trump can pardon whoever he wants for whatever reason he wants. Period.
There is no investigation to be had here and there is no oversight to be carried about by these members of the Judiciary Committee. It’s a complete waste of time to press the DOJ and Pentagon about the matter when they aren’t even the ones who hold the power. At no point in our history has a President been expected to formally explain his pardons to the legislative branch. That’s simply not in their purview.
Hilariously, as Jazz Shaw at Hotair points out, Whitehouse and Leahy tacitly admit that reality even as they demand answers. This was the beginning of the letter.
“The President’s pardon powers are virtually absolute. That is precisely why safeguards must be in place to ensure that they are wielded judiciously – institutional safeguards like your office, which exists to ensure that the President’s pardon powers are exercised fairly and in the interests of justice.”
Those powers aren’t just “virtually absolute.” They are absolute. Can that be abused? That’s more than possible, but it’s one of the many compromises the Founder’s made with an eye toward keeping a separation between the powers and stopping harassment of the executive branch. You don’t have to like who a President pardons, but his power to do so isn’t in question. Prattling on about “institutional safeguards” is nonsensical irrelevancy. There are no “institutional safeguards.” There’s simply the constitutional power of the President. If he chooses to use those in advisory positions along the way to gather information, he can do that. Or not.
This is a dead-end for Democrats, but I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to try to push this issue.
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