By ERIC TUCKER
WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Jeff Sessions is defending President Donald Trump’s pardons of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former Bush administration official I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.
Both of those pardons were issued by Trump and bypassed the input of the Justice Department’s pardon attorney, which historically reviews petitions for clemency.
Sessions appeared Wednesday at a Senate hearing, where Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen reminded him that the attorney general had once defended the role of the pardon attorney.
Sessions says there’s no question the president has the authority to issue pardons without the Justice Department’s involvement.
He then criticized as shocking several pardons issued during the Clinton administration. He defended Arpaio as a legitimate pardon candidate because of his age and misdemeanor conviction, and said Libby had served his country.