Washington • President Donald Trump on Monday asserted an “absolute right” to pardon himself of any federal crimes but said he has no reason to do because he has not engaged in any wrongdoing.
“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?” Trump wrote on Twitter.
His assessment echoed that of his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who offered an expansive view of the president’s executive powers during a series of interviews Sunday, arguing that Trump probably has the ability to pardon himself.
“He probably does,” Giuliani said Sunday, when asked on ABC’s “This Week” if Trump has the ability to pardon himself. “He has no intention of pardoning himself, but he probably — not to say he can’t.”
Giuliani’s comments came less than 24 hours after the revelation Saturday that the president’s legal team argued in a confidential January memo to special counsel Robert Mueller that Trump could not have obstructed an FBI probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election because, as president, he has total control over all federal investigations.
In his tweet on Monday, Trump again lashed out at Mueller’s probe, calling it a “never ending Witch Hunt,” asserting that it was led by “13 Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others)” and predicting that it would continue through the mid-term elections.
Mueller is a Republican, as is Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, a Trump appointee overseeing Mueller’s investigation.
Legal scholars differ on the issue of whether a president can pardon himself.
The question of whether a president can self-pardon has long been a “parlor game” among scholars, said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University Law School.
There’s no precedent for it and thus no case law. Turley said he believes a president can pardon himself — but added that would not protect a president from impeachment.
“A president cannot pardon out of an impeachment,” Turley said. Congress, he said, “can use his pardon as an abuse of his office.”
The Washington Post’s Ashley Parker and Joel Achenbach contributed to this report.