Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wouldn’t say whether it would be appropriate for a President to preemptively pardon people who are of interest to a federal investigation.
That scenario is a hot topic in light of Special Counsel Bob Mueller’s Russia probe, as President Trump has reportedly asked advisers about his abilities to pardon himself and those close to him, and Mueller’s team has appeared to take measures to circumvent that possibility, by working with the New York state attorney general’s office. (Presidents can only pardon federal crimes, not state crimes.)
After bringing up that Sessions had previously refused to say whether he had discussed potential pardons for people implicated by the Russia investigation, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) posed the question to Sessions as a hypothetical.
“Broadly speaking, do you believe that it would be problematic for an ongoing investigation if a president were to preemptively issue a pardon for someone who we have reason to believe is of interest to that investigation before the special counsel had a chance to finish his work?” Klobuchar asked.
“Well, the pardon power is quite broad. I’m not studied it. I do not know if that would be appropriate or not, frankly,” Sessions said. He later added that he would look into it and follow up with a written response to the committee.