Mr. Speaker, at this time of the year, it is common for whatever President is in power to review requests for pardons and for commutations of sentence. And yesterday, the President exercised his constitutional authority and pardoned numerous individuals, at least 29 of them, and I have all of their names here. I count seven drug dealers that were pardoned, one individual for receiving kickbacks in defense procurements contracts, and he commuted one sentence of an individual that was aiding and abetting the distribution of cocaine.
I want to make it clear; the President has the absolute power under the Constitution to pardon anybody he wishes or commute the sentence. And I want to read part of the Constitution, a pocketbook Constitution that many of us here carry that says, "The President shall have the power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States."
You notice, Mr. Speaker, it doesn't give any conditions, except he can't pardon someone who has been impeached. It doesn't require that a committee decide who is to be pardoned. It doesn't require that the Justice Department do anything or be even involved in the process. It gives the power of pardon and commutation to the President; and he has that right to pardon anyone he wishes, and I uphold his right to do so.
But in jail today in the Federal penitentiary somewhere across our United States are two individuals who I think should be pardoned, or at least their sentences should be commuted. And numerous people in the House, on both sides, have asked the President to look at these cases and pardon these two individuals, especially in light of their appellate court hearing that took place just a few weeks ago in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Louisiana. Of course, those two people are Border Agents Ramos and Compean, who I feel like were unjustly convicted by an overzealous prosecution, a comment that was made by one of the Federal judges on appeal, "overzealous prosecution."
But be that as it may, and it seems to me that they have been imprisoned a year now, most of that time they have been serving solitary confinement. For what crime? Well, because they supposedly violated the civil rights of a drug smuggler bringing drugs in from Mexico worth about $1 million. And the United States Government, rather than prosecute the drug dealer, prosecuted the Border Agents because they didn't follow policy, protocol, filling out appropriate forms after this shooting took place. But they go make a deal with the drug dealer. They make a deal with the devil, and they get testimony from the drug dealer in their trial. Talking about the Federal prosecution made a deal with him.
But, you see, that whole case kind of has some bad things that happened. We had learned, several of us, that while the drug dealer, granted immunity, that means they are not going to prosecute him, to testify, and before the trial took place, he brought in another load of drugs from Mexico to the United States worth about $700,000.
The U.S. Attorney's Office, in a carefully worded propaganda piece, denied that that ever occurred. But since we saw, and I have seen the DEA report, we knew a second drug deal took place. And now, finally, after this took place and many of us knew about it, the Federal Government has decided to prosecute the drug dealer on that second case; conspiracy to import drugs into the United States, and charging a new indictment with three offenses, conspiracy to commit crimes against the United States.
So the Federal Government makes a deal with the drug dealer. He brings in drugs after the deal is made. Now he is in jail. And it seems to me, justice would demand that these two Border Agents be released at least until this appeal is over with. But I think they should have their sentences commuted or even they should be pardoned by the President.
The bureaucrats say, Oh, these two Border Agents haven't followed protocol. They haven't applied the right way, they haven't filled out the right forms for a pardon and a commutation of sentence. Well, the Constitution that I just read doesn't require forms to be filled out for people in prison to get a pardon. I don't remember Mr. Scooter Libby filling out some kind of form to get a pardon. He didn't even ever go to jail. He just got a Get Out of Jail Free card. He was pardoned. The President had the absolute right to do that. I don't quarrel with that. President Nixon got an absolute pardon by President Ford. He didn't fill out any forms to get that pardon.
So, Mr. Speaker, I recommend and urge the President to commute the sentences of these two Border Agents. And he can do it on his own. He doesn't need permission from some bureaucracy, and I hope he does so and does so quickly.
And that's just the way it is.
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