By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee on Wednesday subpoenaed the Department of Homeland Security for documents that could shed light on President Donald Trump’s alleged offer of pardons to officials implementing U.S. immigration policy.
The committee, which is considering whether to recommend impeachment against Trump, cited press reports that the president offered pardons to officials should they face legal action for following his instructions to close a section of the U.S.-Mexico border, aggressively seize private property and disregard environmental rules in erecting a border fence.
“The dangling of pardons by the president to encourage government officials to violate federal law would constitute another reported example of the president’s disregard for the rule of law,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrod Nadler said in a statement.
Neither the White House nor DHS responded immediately to requests for comment.
The subpoena gives acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan until 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) on Sept 17 to turn over a number of documents, notes and communications, including those related to March 21 and April 5 meetings between Trump and DHS officials.
The House panel is heading for what could be a politically explosive period in its investigation of the Trump presidency. Democrats are gathering evidence of alleged misconduct by the president and planning hearings in hopes of deciding by the end of the year whether to recommend his impeachment to the full House of Representatives.
Last month, the committee subpoenaed testimony from Trump’s former campaign chairman Corey Lewandowski and two White House aides. The three men were cited in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation report as witnesses to actions by which Democrats say Trump sought to obstruct the probe.
Mueller also documented the role of pardons in alleged efforts by Trump to dissuade his former campaign manager Paul Manafort and former lawyer Michael Cohen from cooperating with federal investigators.
In addition to possible obstruction and pardon dangling, the House committee is investigating alleged hush payments made before the 2016 presidential election to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump and the president’s business dealings that could violate constitutional restrictions against officials receiving profits from foreign and domestic governments.
(Reporting by Eric Beech and David Morgan; Editing by Leslie Adler, Tom Brown and Sonya Hepinstall)