Romney attacks former president Trump for handing out pardons to ‘cronies’

Namita Singh
·2 min read
<p>File Image: Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) speaks at the confirmation hearing for President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of State Antony Blinken before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill 19 January 2021 in Washington DC</p> (Getty Images)

File Image: Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) speaks at the confirmation hearing for President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of State Antony Blinken before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill 19 January 2021 in Washington DC

(Getty Images)

Senator Mitt Romney has called for constitutional reforms in the presidential power of clemency as he slammed former president Donald Trump for handing out pardons to friends and allies he termed as “cronies.”

Mr Trump had pardoned 143 people before leaving office on Wednesday.

These included Mr Trump’s former chief-of-staff, Steve Bannon, and one of his top fundraisers, Elliott Broidy, as well as a string of convicted Congressmen.

"I can't imagine the founders in providing for pardon power for a president anticipated that presidents would use it to reward political friends, and as a result I would hope that we could develop a tradition of more narrowly providing pardons," said Mr Romney.

He added that a president should not be “providing them to people who are cronies or political individuals.”

One of the recipients of the presidential clemency is ex-Republican congressmen Rick Renzi, who was convicted in 2013 on racketeering, money laundering charges related to a land swap scheme. Mr Trump also pardoned Duke Cunningham, the ex-California representative who was convicted of accepting $2.4 million in bribes from defence contractors.

He commuted the sentence of former Detroit mayor, Kwame M Kilpatrick, who was convicted of using his office for self enrichment.

Mr Trump has been widely criticised for use of his unchecked powers to grant pardon to allies and friends of his family. There was a “running theme” during the 235 pardons and commutations he issued during the presidency, wrote the New York Times. “A disdain for a justice system that seeks to hold public officials to account for violation of the public trust," it added.

Under article II of the US constitution, the president of the country enjoys broad and unchallengeable powers to pardon individuals and cases related to federal crimes. This power of the presidential pardon is “granted without limit”, the supreme court ruled in the 1871 case of United States vs Klien. It also reiterated that “Congress can neither limit the effect of his pardon, nor exclude from its exercise any class of offenders.”

The power to grant clemency has since been a controversial feature of US politics for over two centuries.

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