Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s lawyer, said yesterday that the US leader “probably” has the power to pardon himself as the Russia investigation continues to dog his presidency.
His remarks came after the publication of a leaked memo obtained and published by the New York Times on Saturday in which the president’s legal team argued that the US leader cannot obstruct justice as he is “America’s top law officer” nor could he be compelled to testify.
When asked by US TV network ABC on Sunday if he thought Mr Trump had the power to pardon himself, the former New York mayor replied “he probably does.”
He added that that the president: “has no intention of pardoning himself,” but that the US Constitution “doesn’t say he can’t.”
“I think the political ramifications of that would be tough. Pardoning other people is one thing. Pardoning yourself is another. “Other presidents have pardoned people in circumstances like this, both in their administration and sometimes the next president even of a different party will come along and pardon.”
His comments immediately drew criticism.
Will Hurd, a Republican congressman from Texas, said: “I think that would be a terrible move. I think people would erupt.
“So I hope we don’t have to get to that point. And it’s hard to predict what would happen, but that would create outrage on both sides of the political aisle.”
On Saturday night, the former New York mayor raised eyebrows when he threatened to sue special counsel Robert Mueller, should he attempt to subpoena the president for interview.
“If Mueller tries to subpoena us, we’re going to court,” he told ABC.
Mr Guiliani was speaking less than 24 hours after the publication of a secret 20 page memo sent from Mr Trump’s legal team to the Mueller investigation.
In it, John Dowd, the president’s former personal attorney, wrote: “It remains our position that the president’s actions here, by virtue of his position as the chief law enforcement officer, could neither constitutionally nor legally constitute obstruction because that would amount to him obstructing himself, and that he could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.”
Later, speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press, Mr Giuliani said: “The president of the United States pardoning himself would just be unthinkable.
He added it would probably lead to an immediate impeachment. “President Trump has no need to do that. He didn’t do anything wrong.”