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Bob Barr on Trump pardoning himself: Those ‘fantastical powers’ do not exist


Former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr comes to this conclusion in a Townhall.com column examining the Trump legal team’s claim that the president can pardon himself. The onetime federal prosecutor cited Alexander Hamilton’s work in the Federalist Papers to argue that presidents can be subject to prosecution and punishment after Congress chooses to remove them from office:

“In case Rudy (Giuliani) missed it, the operative word used by Hamilton, as regards the issue of impeachment and prosecution, is “afterwards.” First comes impeachment. Then a trial and conviction by the Senate. And, only after these proceedings, when the president is removed from office and no longer occupying a seat of power, can he be prosecuted for his crimes.

Barr, you may remember, helped lead impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton as a Republican congressman in the late 90s.

He’s clearly no fan of special counsel Bob Mueller -- he tweeted last night that the former FBI director’s legal power is “frightening.” But the now-Libertarian also gives the president’s legal team some strategic advice. Rather than insisting Trump can pardon himself, they should argue “he would never, ever find himself in a place where he would need to invoke a self-pardon,” Barr says in his column. 

“Arguing otherwise implies he would have been successfully prosecuted for a crime – a situation which can only occur after he is out of office,” he said.

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As if you needed another sign the Georgia GOP runoff is getting heavy: Shortly after Brian Kemp’s campaign announced state Rep. David Clark would head his veterans coalition, a top surrogate for Casey Cagle took aim at him.

State Sen. Renee Unterman tweeted a picture of Clark’s “no” vote for measures in 2015 that set up a fund to help victims of sexual predators through new criminal fines and an annual fee on strip clubs.

“Same guy who votes for sexual predators preying on young children being bought & sold for sex,” Unterman tweeted of Clark.

Opponents argued that singling out strip clubs for new fees would set a bad precedent and do little to crack down on sex trafficking, and argued that much of the problem occurs online. Roughly two dozen House lawmakers voted against the bill, including Clark.

In a response, he said Unterman and Cagle backers must be “really desperate if they’d steep to calling me and a dozen of the most conservative House members supporters of child predators.”

“This bill had some serious constitutional flaws,” he added. “Shame on you, Renee, for politicizing such an important issue.”

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In endorsement news, Republican David Shafer seems to have consolidated support from the Senate GOP caucus for his run for lieutenant governor. While a majority of senators previously backed their colleague, leadership had stayed neutral in a race that also included former state Sen. Rick Jeffares. With him out of the running, Majority Leader Bill Cowsert announced the entire leadership team was backing Shafer.

“I am 100 percent behind David Shafer. So is the entire caucus leadership,” said Cowsert. “We were excited to see the caucus vote unanimously to support his runoff campaign. We are united."‎

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Georgia U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson was in the White House Rose Garden yesterday for a cheerful event in which President Trump signed into law his much-anticipated bill overhauling the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health care system. But the Washington Post reports that behind the scenes the Trump administration has thrown a wrench into Capitol Hill’s plans to pay for the new initiative, insisting that lawmakers offset the costs of the more than $50 billion law.

Isakson has avoided publicly commenting on the administration’s position. But he appears to have aligned himself with a bipartisan group of senators that has warned that offsetting the costs could lead to the budgets of other VA programs getting cannibalized:

"I understand their concerns regarding funding, and agree that the important reforms included in this bill require resources," the Republican said on the Senate floor last month, referring to that bipartisan group of lawmakers. "I am committed to working with you to find an appropriate solution as the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (appropriations) bill moves to the Senate floor. Our veterans deserve no less."

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Politico’s Florida bureau reports that Isakson’s colleague, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, was recently warned by federal election officials about receiving excessive campaign contributions from a Florida sugar baron. The Federal Election Commission said in a letter to Perdue’s campaign that Pepe Fanjul, head of Florida Crystals, appears to have given the Georgia Republican $5,400 for 2018 primary races and another $5,400 for the general election. The combined legal limit for primaries and generals is $5,400.

Perdue’s office later said the contributions came from both Fanjul and his son, who shares the same name, and that the donations are kosher. 

In case you’re wondering why the Florida company would be interested in donating to Perdue, the first-term senator is a member of the chamber’s Agriculture Committee, which will set sugar and other crop subsidies in this year’s farm bill.

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We told you Tuesday about Senate leaders taking Perdue up on his push to cancel the August recess to work on spending bills and confirming Trump nominees. Turns out Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, has a different idea. The New York Democrat called on Republican leaders to use the extra time to consider legislation aimed at lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs.

We have a feeling we won’t be hearing much from the Republican leader on that.

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A key U.S. Senate committee today is on track to advance the nomination of Georgia Supreme Court Justice Britt Grant to be a federal judge. Grant sailed through her Senate confirmation hearing late last month, but some civil rights groups have urged lawmakers to reject her because of her work as Georgia’s solicitor general.

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