Congressman rips Trump for allegedly offering his own officials pardons to break the law: 'That's lawlessness, not America'
Rep. Steve Cohen (Image credit: CNN)

On Tuesday, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, laid into President Donald Trump on CNN's "OutFront" over allegations that he offered his Customs and Border Protection Chief a pardon in return for illegally sealing the border to asylum seekers.


"He does not have the absolute right to close the border," said Cohen to host Erin Burnett. "There are laws, the Immigration and Naturalization Act which requires asylum seekers to be offered an opportunity to come to the country and to have a hearing. So he can't close it to them. But there's international laws as well. That's as far as the law."

"And as far as him saying he never offered pardons, well, we'll find out," Cohen continued. "That's what we've asked for recollections and notations if any contemporaneous documents were produced of any suggestions that these officials the should violate the law ... whether he encouraged people to violate the law and offered them security through a pardon if they did violate it, saying that they wouldn't have to suffer the repercussions. That's lawlessness, not America."

"If can you prove that it happened, what happens then?" asked Burnett. "What do you do about it?"

"If it happened, I think the U.S. Attorney and the Justice Department would be interested, and the District of Columbia, for violations of the law," said Cohen. "The reality is it's an impeachable offense ... the man's conduct has been certainly questionable in many areas, emoluments, obstruction of justice, and here just straight-out violations of the law."

"It's not a place we'd like to go, but it's a place he may force us to go," said Cohen, "and it's our responsibility under the Constitution, it's what the founding fathers gave as a recourse to illegal activities by a president or not even illegal but activities that demean the office of the president and give the people not to reason to trust him in that capacity."

"I'm sure Mr. Barr wouldn't prosecute him, or would tell the assistant U.S. Attorneys not to," Cohen added, "but it's a constitutional crisis."

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