WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump, under pressure from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 US election, probably has the power to pardon himself but does not plan to do so, his attorney Rudy Giuliani said on Sunday.
Giuliani was asked whether Trump has the power to give himself a pardon, Giuliani said, “He’s not, but he probably does.” He added that Trump “has no intention of pardoning himself,” but that the US Constitution, which gives a president the authority to issue pardons, “doesn’t say he can’t.”
Giuliani speaking on ABC’s This Week programme, added, “It would be an open question. I think it would probably get answered by, gosh, that’s what the Constitution says.”
Mueller has been investigating whether Russia meddled in the presidential election and whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow. Mueller, whose investigation already has led to criminal charges against Trump campaign aides including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, is also looking into whether Trump unlawfully sought to obstruct the Russia investigation.
Trump and Russia have deny collusion, and the president has frequently denied obstructing the probe.
However Giuliani noted that the political consequences of a self-pardon could be severe. He told NBC’s “Meet the Press with Chuck Todd” that “the president of the United States pardoning himself would just be unthinkable. And it would lead to probably an immediate impeachment.”
According to the American Constitution, a president can be impeached by the House of Representatives and then removed from office by the Senate.
Trump seems to be still considering a self-pardon after a Jan. 29 letter from Trump’s lawyers to Mueller, published by the New York Times on Saturday, argued that the president could not have obstructed the probe given the powers granted to him by the Constitution.
Truml lawyers wrote, “It remains our position that the President’s actions here, by virtue of his position as the chief law enforcement officer, could neither constitutionally nor legally constitute obstruction because that would amount to him obstructing himself, and that he could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.”
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