Trump says he has ’absolute right’ to pardon himself


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump asserted his presidential power and escalated his efforts to discredit the special counsel Russia probe Monday, declaring he has the “absolute right” to pardon himself and attacking the investigation as “totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!”

Trump’s comments on Twitter came a day after attorney Rudy Giuliani played down the possibility that the president could pardon himself, suggesting he might have that authority but would be unwise to use it.

“Pardoning himself would be unthinkable and probably lead to immediate impeachment,” Giuliani, a member of Trump’s legal team, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “And he has no need to do it, he’s done nothing wrong.”

On Twitter Monday, Trump said: “As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” He then again decried special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe as a “never ending Witch Hunt.”

Trump later added that the “appointment of the Special Councel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Despite that, we play the game because I, unlike the Democrats, have done nothing wrong!”

Trump’s legal team is making clear that it will combat any effort to force the president to testify in front of a grand jury. Giuliani on Sunday underscored one of the main arguments in a newly unveiled letter sent by Trump’s lawyers to Mueller back in January: A president can’t be given a grand jury subpoena as part of the investigation into foreign meddling in the 2016 election.

But Giuliani, in a series of television interviews, broke with one of their bolder arguments in the letter that a president could not have committed obstruction of justice because he has ultimate authority over any federal investigation.

Yet the former New York City mayor, who was not on the legal team when the letter was written, added that Trump “probably does” have the power to pardon himself, an assertion challenged by legal scholars. He says the president’s legal team hasn’t discussed that option, which many observers believe could plunge the nation into a constitutional crisis.

“I think the political ramifications would be tough,” Giuliani told ABC’s “This Week.” ‘’Pardoning other people is one thing, pardoning yourself is tough.”

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