WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett today addressed that it is an “open question” as to whether Trump could pardon himself while adding that the nation’s top judicial body “can’t control” whether a president obeys its decisions.
Amy Coney Barrett on the third day of her Judiciary Committee hearing responded to many questions and went through severe scrutiny but she sidestepped questions from senators on the ability of presidents to evade efforts to hold them accountable.
Trump has said he has the “absolute power” to pardon himself, part of his executive clemency authority. Asked by Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy whether a president has such power, Barrett said the “question has never been litigated.”
President Trump had to face a criminal investigation on account of the conduct of himself and his businesses by a New York City prosecutor who is seeking his financial records and tax returns. In light of it, Trump also has issued executive clemency to political allies and friends.
Barrett added in her statement that “no one is above the law” but twice declined to respond straight on the point when Leahy asked her whether a president who refuses to comply with a court order is a threat to the U.S. constitutional system of checks and balances within the three branches of government.
“The Supreme Court can’t control whether or not the president obeys,” have the “force of law” but the court lacks enforcement power and relies on the other branches of government; “A court can pronounce the law and issue a judgment but it lacks control over how the political branches respond to it,” Barrett added.
Barrett refused to discuss and answer to whether Trump is violating the U.S. Constitution’s “emoluments” clause with his business dealings, objecting to Leahy’s characterization of the provision as an anti-corruption measure. The provision bar presidents from taking gifts or payments from foreign and state governments without congressional approval.
To which she responded that “I don’t know if I would characterize it as an anti-corruption clause,” adding that it was designed to “prevent foreign countries from having influence.”