Attorney General nominee Judge Merrick Garland on Monday said the Justice Department's pardon attorney plays a large role to "protect the president from improper influence" when it comes to granting pardons to applicants.
During the Trump administration, "88% of the pardons that he granted had some sort of personal or political connection to the former president," Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said during the confirmation hearing on Monday.
Some more context: By the end of Trump's presidency, he issued 237 commutations and pardons that included rappers and a political strategist. Dozens of those who were granted clemency or commutation did not go through the proper channels through the Justice Department's pardon attorney. There are over 14,000 pending clemency requests.
"What do you think we need to do to restore integrity to the pardon process? Obviously, it's an important power of the president, what do you think you could do from the attorney general's position?" Klobuchar asked.
Garland responded by saying, "Well, senator, you're right.”
“This is a power granted by the constitution to the president. I think the role of the Justice Department through its pardon attorney is to provide a careful and visualized examination of the people who are asking to be pardoned,” he continued. “The office has a set of very detailed regulations which describe when people are appropriate for pardons and when they are not. It provides an important screen that not only yields who maybe should be pardoned but also protects the president from improper influence."