House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suggested that the House may introduce a bill to limit presidential pardon power following President Donald Trump's decision to commute the sentence of his longtime associate and former adviser Roger Stone.
Pelosi, along with many of her Democrat colleagues, excoriated the president for providing clemency for Stone, who had been scheduled to report to prison on July 14. She called the decision "an act of staggering corruption," while vowing Congress would take steps to prevent similar actions in the future.
The political consultant and lobbyist had recently escalated his bid to delay the start of his prison sentence by filing an emergency request that asked an appeals court to push back the date of his self-surrender. He argued that his age and undisclosed medical issues would leave him vulnerable in the prison system to COVID-19.
The appeals court rejected the request, saying that Stone is "not legally eligible for further postponement of his reporting date" under the law he used to request his delay.
The ruling was quickly mooted as Trump signed an Executive Grant of Clemency commuting Stone's sentence later in the day. The White House said in a statement that Stone was “a victim of the Russia Hoax” that had been perpetuated for years by “the Left and its allies in the media” in an effort to undermine the Trump presidency.
"The collusion delusion spawned endless and farcical investigations, conducted at great taxpayer expense, looking for evidence that did not exist," the statement said.
Once the prosecutors from the special counsel's office were aware that the investigations would not bear fruit, the prosecutors then turned to probe alleged wrongdoing by Trump associates, the White House claims.
"These charges were the product of recklessness borne of frustration and malice. This is why the out-of-control Mueller prosecutors, desperate for splashy headlines to compensate for a failed investigation, set their sights on Mr. Stone," the statement said.
Trump defended his decision to grant clemency to Stone in a statement on July 11, saying that the 67-year-old was targeted in "an illegal Witch Hunt that never should have taken place."
Similarly, the 140 pardons and 36 commutations issued by President Bill Clinton during his final hours in office triggered a criminal investigation.
More recently, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) introduced the Abuse of the Pardon Prevention Bill in 2019 to prevent presidents from "abusing the pardon power for their own personal benefit or to obstruct justice."
A bill that limits the presidential power of clemency is expected to face an uphill battle, given that Republicans hold a majority in the Senate.