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.
“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.
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? In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2018
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
“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.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said Sunda that the president should not pardon himself.
“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.
Only in a two-bit tin horn totalitarian dictatorship could the President even consider pardoning himself from all accountability. It's unthinkable in this great country, and already legally indisputable.
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) June 4, 2018
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.