The Republican Senate Judiciary Chair just gave a heroic response to Trump’s “pardon” tweet

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President Trump claims unnamed legal scholars have told him, according to a tweet today, that he has an “absolute right to PARDON” himself — but veteran Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, disagrees.

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“If I were president of the United States and I had a lawyer that told me I could pardon myself,” Sen. Grassley told CNN today, “I think I would hire a new lawyer.”

The question of whether Trump or any president, can pardon himself arose after The New York Times published a letter from the president’s legal team written last January which attempts to argue that Trump can pardon himself if he is caught in the Russia collusion investigation.

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The one voice publicly backing up Trump, again, is former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who told ABC News on Sunday”s “This Week” that Trump “probably does have the power to issue himself a pardon,” although he added it would create a strong political backlash.

“I think the political ramifications of that would be tough,” said Giuliani. “Pardoning other people is one thing. Pardoning yourself is another.”

When then-President Richard Nixon considered pardoning himself for crimes committed during the Watergate scandal, he asked the Justice Department for a ruling and was told in an Aug. 5, 1974 memo that he could not pardon himself

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“Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the President cannot pardon himself,” Mary C. Lawton, Acting Assistant Attorney General,  wrote to Nixon, who resigned as president three days later and was later pardoned by his handpicked successor. 

In this case, lawmakers in both parties are warning Trump against trying to pardon himself.

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House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said Sunda that the president should not pardon himself.

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“The president is not saying he is going to pardon himself. The president never said he pardoned himself,” McCarthy told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I don’t think a president should pardon themselves.”

Democrats wrestled with this question when Bill Clinton was president and faced impeachment, and both then and now said a president is not above the law.

If Trump were convicted of a crime and did pardon himself, the outcome would depend on the timing. If the Democrats retake one or both Houses of Congressi in November, then Trump would likely face an impeachment trial.

If it happens before then, it will end up in the U.S. Supreme Court where the new conservative majority could rule in his favor.

Either way, it would be a political scandal and a public relations nightmare of Trump but the horror of it all is that he has shaken off other situations with those consequences.

Benjamin Locke

Benjamin Locke is a retired college professor with an undergraduate degree in Industrial Labor and Relations from Cornell University and an MBA from the European School of Management.

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