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The Veep as Chief Clemency Advisor?

Paul Larkin has this essay in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, which is affiliated with the Federalist Society.  He believes that having the Office of the Pardon Attorney in the Department of Justice creates a conflict of interest.  But where else to put it?

Paul suggests that the Vice President should be in charge of pardons.  He would, of course, need a staff or a board to advise him, but the Veep would make the short walk to the Oval Office with his recommendations on who among the many applicants would actually get clemency.

I worked with Paul many years ago and have always respected his work.  His idea is worth considering.


Since it is the executive branch that prosecutes and the executive branch that pardons, some form of this "conflict of interest" is inescapable in any event -- unless this is a feint to get pardoning moved out of the executive branch altogether, like to the courts.

Like you, I know Paul and worked with him. He is a very smart and fair-minded man. I don't think his idea is a feint. I do think, however, that it will be seized upon by those who want to cut the original prosecutors out of any input at all into pardons. That move has been a dream of the defense bar for years. They got control of the clemency process under Sally Yates when she was at DOJ, and they're trying to figure out a way to keep it.

Still, if the deliberations for clemency are to be moved over to the Vice President's Office, I, hoping to be a public-spirited man, will volunteer to be Mr. Pence's chief of staff for the new clemency office. I will seek a salary of one dollar, not wanting to drive up the deficit.

We'll see how the defense bar likes that.

Sounds good to me.

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