Trump lawyer Giuliani says president probably can pardon himself

Aaron Brown
June 4, 2018

President Donald Trump is facing growing criticism after a letter his legal team sent to Special Counsel Robert Mueller said the president can not obstruct justice and that he shouldn't be forced to testify.

President's lawyer and former NY mayor adds to list of outlandish and confusing claims, saying that Trump would be immune from indictment even if he had shot the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director.

Rudy Giuliani has caused quite a stir on social media, after saying that US President Donald Trump would "probably" be able to pardon himself.

Mr. Giuliani, in an interview with The Huffington Post on Sunday, said the remedy for a sitting president's illegal behavior would first be impeachment, prior to any criminal charges.

The question of self-pardon arose after the New York Times published a letter to the counsel from Mr Trump's lawyers. "Pardoning other people is one thing, pardoning yourself would be tough". If Mueller can not take either of those actions, then there is no need to put the president under oath to answer his questions.

Legal analysts said that as the head of the executive branch, Trump could issue pardons, fire senior officials or order them to shut down investigations.

Trump has issued a series of ever-sharper tweets attacking the Mueller probe as politically motivated and insisting there was "no collusion" between his campaign team and Russian Federation. The "Justice Department is given a tremendous amount of independence". But he said such a move would surely incite a political storm and lead to impeachment proceedings.

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It is unclear, too, whether and to what extent Mueller might be able to compel Trump to testify, if the president will not agree to a voluntary interview.

With the notion of pardoning the pair, many interpreted as a signal to allies ensnared in the Russian Federation probe but also to raise the topic of how widely the president - any president - can use the executive office's pardoning power. In other words, even if the president fired Comey (or Mueller) exclusively to protect himself from criminal liability, it's all perfectly legitimate.

Trump's lawyers and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders previously denied the president had dictated the statement and only offered suggestions.

"He could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired", Jay Sekulow and John Dowd wrote in a 20-page letter.

But that's all the president's decision. Though he repeatedly claimed that the president has no interest in doing any of this, he put forth the idea that the president is above the law in every imaginable scenario - and once we're debating the legality of our king-like president committing murder, a little obstruction of justice doesn't seem like a big deal.

What about the political ramifications?

The Constitution says the president can " grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment". "Should have told me!"

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