Who Is Steve Cohen? The Tennessee Lawmaker Wants To Make It Illegal For Trump To Pardon Himself


As the American public attempts to make sense of the recent news concerning the indictment of Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Tennessee Democrat Rep. Steve Cohen has proposed a particular constitutional amendment directly aimed at the president. On Monday, The Hill reported that Cohen seeks to limit Trump's pardoning power under his proposal and will introduce the plan on Tuesday.

According to Cohen's proposal, such a limitation placed on the president's pardoning authority will ban him from forgiving federal crimes committed by himself, members of his presidency, as well as members of his presidential campaign — this would, naturally, include Manafort. Cohen released an official statement on Monday.

On Twitter, Cohen reiterated his views:

He also added that his proposal will impact future presidents, as well:

Cohen's proposal may have been inspired by a disturbing precedent — namely, Trump's previous use of his presidential powers to pardon individuals of his choice.

In August, Trump pardoned Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, eliciting outrage from observers. Arpaio had been convicted of criminal contempt due to his aggressive punishments for undocumented immigrants. Reacting to Trump's pardoning of Arpaio, Cohen officially stated:

In addition to disagreeing with Trump's forgiveness for Arpaio, the Democrat expressed disagreement with Trump's response to the Neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which turned fatal after an anti-racist counter-protester was killed by a white nationalist.

As Trump condemned "both sides," Cohen responded in an official statement:

At this moment, Manafort is charged with conspiring against the United States of America, financial fraud, tax fraud, and nine other counts. The former campaign chair surrendered on Monday morning but has pleaded not guilty.

If Manafort is convicted of these crimes, however, Trump could use his presidential pardoning authority to forgive him. As president, he is certainly allowed to pardon federal crimes, but then again, doing so could very well tank his public image and, most importantly, destroy the American public's already-weak trust in him.