“I write to urgently request information about what role, if any, your office played in President Trump’s decision to issue a series of controversial pardons and commutations,” Leahy wrote.
The DOJ’s non-partisan pardon office — which the President is not required to consult — is set up to handle pardon petitions utilizing established standards and procedures.
Earlier this month, in response to an inquiry from Leahy and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, the Justice Department said that Trump had used the office to review only six of the 22 pardons and commutations he had granted at that time.
Calling the office a safeguard to ensure “pardon powers are exercised fairly and in the interests of justice,” Leahy wrote: “What process President Trump relied upon — and what motivated him to grant yesterday’s pardons and commutations — merit serious scrutiny.”
Trump’s latest wave of pardons and commutations, some of which he has been considering for years, come amid a post-impeachment flurry of presidential prerogative, from ridding his team of aides he deemed disloyal to flagrantly inserting himself into Justice Department matters.
Trump called one of the sentences “ridiculous” and said he relied on recommendations from others to make the decisions.
“These are all people that you have to see the recommendations. I rely on recommendations, very importantly,” he told reporters at Joint Base Andrews before departing for a western swing Tuesday afternoon.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.