Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., late last week introduced H.Res. 1531, urging President Bush not to pardon senior administration officials for whatever crimes the President might have authorized. The legislation resolves that:
(1) it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the granting of preemptive pardons by the President to senior officials of his administration for acts they may have taken in the course of their official duties is a dangerous abuse of the pardon power;
(2) it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the President should not grant preemptive pardons to senior officials in his administration for acts they may have taken in the course of their official duties;
(3) it is the sense of the House of Representatives that James Madison was correct in his observation that `[i]f the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds [to] believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty’;
(4) it is the sense of the House of Representatives that a special investigative commission, or a Select Committee be tasked with investigating possible illegal activities by senior officials of the administration of President George W. Bush, including, if necessary, any abuse of the President’s pardon power; and
(5) the next Attorney General of the United States appoint an independent counsel to investigate, and, where appropriate, prosecute illegal acts by senior officials of the administration of President George W. Bush.
It’s a safe bet at least a few Bay Area House members will sign onto this as co-sponsors, though while most probably have no problem opposing pardons, some might balk at calling for an independent counsel to review the past eight years lest doing so conflict with the wishes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President-elect Barack Obama or both.
“We need to look at it (he just dropped it) but we are very interested,” Julie Nickson, Rep. Barbara Lee‘s chief of staff, told me today, noting lawmakers won’t be able to sign on until Congress meets again in December.
Similarly, a staffer for Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, tells me the Nadler resolution has been submitted for Stark’s review but he hasn’t signed off on it yet.
There is some precedent for such pardons (not that this makes it right). You’ll recall that President George H.W. Bush — in his final, lame-duck days in the Oval Office after Bill Clinton’s 1992 victory — issued pardons to six Reagan Administration officials involved in the Iran-Contra affair, a scandal which had cast a pall over both Reagans’ and Bush’s presidencies. Of course, George W. Bush won’t have a friendly administration following his as Reagan did; if he wants pardons done, he’ll have to do them himself.
As an aside, one of those pardoned in the Iran-Contra affair was Elliott Abrams, whom President George W. Bush has named to several National Security Council posts including Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy. So, perhaps Abrams could be the first person in U.S. history to receive pardons from father-and-son presidents! (Note: I’m not aware of any crimes Abrams has committed while serving the Bush Administration that would necessitate a pardon, unless you’re one of those who consider any participation in this Administration to be a crime.)
Anyway, if this president does issue last-minute pardons for members of his own Administration, does anyone care to guess who the recipients might be?