Former federal prosecutor Cynthia Alksne told MSNBC on Tuesday that she was concerned that attorney general nominee Bill Barr wasn’t asked whether he was sorry for supporting the Iran-Contra pardons, saying that his response could help clarify his stance on a president pardoning himself or family members for illegal acts.
“I’m concerned that he’s backing away from the amount of information and the transparency he’s going to have on the Mueller report and what he’s going to give people,” Alksne said, adding that Barr’s comments and attitude had “migrated” throughout the hearing.
“I’m interested that we haven’t talked as much about pardons,” she added. “Nobody’s asked him yet, ‘what about those Iran-Contra pardons? Are you sorry those went through?'”
“Nobody has asked him if the president can pardon himself and what is his legal opinion about that,” Alksne continued. “Nobody’s asked him about what would happen if the president pardoned family members in order to shut down investigations.”
As attorney general during the Iran-Contra investigation, Barr backed President George H.W. Bush’s decision to pardon the Reagan administration officials caught up in the scheme before they could stand trial. Barr boasted later that he had “favored the broadest pardon authority”, which was strongly criticized by independent prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, who led the investigation.
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