Federal law does not require that pardons be made public. And Rep. Denny Heck is concerned that Donald Trump may have already issued them, in order to sabotage the Russia investigations.
Following a classified hearing of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, Washington Democratic Rep. Denny Heck offered an extremely troubling possibility.
In an interview on CNN, Heck noted to host Jim Acosta that federal law does not require a president to make public any pardons he or she issues.
Therefore, Donald Trump could "privately" give a "blanket, prospective pardon to anyone and everyone involved in any and all activities associated with" potential collusion and conspiracy between the Trump team and Russia.
In fact, Heck ominously declared, "He could have already done it, and we wouldn't know."
ACOSTA: And why do you suppose the story keeps changing?
HECK: On the part of the White House?
ACOSTA: Yeah, why do you think that is?
HECK: So, that's a question that would better be put to them. Obviously, they feel as though they have something to hide, or they're denying reality.
But I tell you, Jim, the other question I hope that you will pose to them — should you ever get another chance to do that in a White House briefing — is whether or not the president has issued a prospective, blanket pardon to anyone and everyone involved in any and all activities associated with this.
Because, Jim, the federal law does not require that he reveal that. That could be privately done. He could have already done it, and we wouldn't know. And I certainly hope somebody asks him at some point.
During the hearing, Heck heard testimony from Michael Caputo, former top advisor on the Trump campaign with strong ties to Russia.
Caputo even now maintains that "No one ever breathed the word 'Russia'" to him during the the campaign.
But under Heck's hypothetical, Caputo's assertion can be seen in a different light: A blanket pardon would protect Caputo, and whomever else Trump named, from repercussions arising from any unlawful acts relating to Trump and Russia — including possibly committing perjury.
If such a pardon exists, every single individual and body investigating Trump's ties to Russia would lose any leverage they otherwise might have had to encourage cooperation and ensure truthful testimony from witnesses.
Heck's appeal to journalists is critical, and the need for the media to press the administration for straightforward answers could not be clearer, or more urgent.