President Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s prison sentence has become the catalyst for Congress to consider pending legislation curtailing his executive power.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nader, New York Democrat, cited the commutation Friday in announcing his panel will mark up two related bills next Thursday, July 23.
“President Trump and his friend Roger Stone did what they said they would do. Stone misled federal investigators, intimidated a witnesses and was convicted for obstruction of justice—but would not testify to the President’s wrongdoing. In exchange, President Trump made sure that Stone will never spend a day in prison,” Mr. Nadler said in a statement.
“This quid pro quo is unacceptable,” Mr. Nadler added. “Congress must act.”
The bills the committee will consider — the Abuse of the Pardon Power Prevention Act and the No President is Above the Law Act — were introduced in 2019 by Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat, and Mr. Nadler, respectively. Each has been stalled for more than a year, however, during which time Stone’s criminal trial ran its course and then some.
Stone, Mr. Trump’s longtime confidant and former campaign adviser, was convicted of all seven charged he faced a result of the government’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, including counts of obstructing Congress, perjury and witness intimidation. He was ordered in February to spend 40 months in federal prison, but Mr. Trump intervened last Friday and commuted the sentence days before Stone was set to begin serving time.
Mr. Schiff’s proposal, the Abuse of the Pardon Power Prevention Act, would require the Department of Justice to provide Congress with materials related to underlying offenses committed by any persons who are pardoned of a federal offense “that arises from an investigation in which the President, or a relative of the President, is a target, subject or witness,” according to its langue.
Mr. Nadler’s bill, the No President is Above the Law Act, would essentially “pause the clock” on the statute of limitations for any crimes the president may have committed during or before entering office, the chairman explained.
“Re-election should not be a get-out-of-jail-free card,” Mr. Nadler said in a statement.
“These are commonsense, good government reforms made necessary by this President’s conduct but applicable to anyone who may hold the office in the future. In this country, no one is above the law—not President Trump, and not presidents to come.”
Prosecutors charged Stone in connection with lying to investigators about his discussions during the campaign involving WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy website that released material during the 2016 race damaging to Mr. Trump’s opponent, former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, previously called Mr. Trump’s commutation “an act of staggering corruption” and called for Congress to respond accordingly.
“Legislation is needed to ensure that no President can pardon or commute the sentence of an individual who is engaged in a cover-up campaign to shield that President from criminal prosecution,” Mrs. Pelosi said last Saturday.
Stone, 67, has asserted he is innocent and is challenging both his conviction and sentence in federal appeals court in Washington, D.C.