Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani argued Sunday that the president probably has the power to pardon himself, as suggested in a recently leaked letter, but he has “no intention” of doing so.
Asked if he has the power to pardon himself, “He’s not, but he probably does,” Giuliani, who recently joined Trump’s legal team, said on ABC’s “This Week.”
JUST IN: Does Pres. Trump have the power to pardon himself?”He’s not, but he probably does,” Rudy Giuliani tells @GStephanopoulos. “He has no intention of pardoning himself, but that doesn’t say he can’t.” https://t.co/IEUEWnjQqe #ThisWeek pic.twitter.com/IE1AocigYl
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) June 3, 2018
“He has no intention of pardoning himself,” Mr. Giuliani said on ABC’s “This Week,” adding, “That doesn’t say he can’t. That’s another really interesting constitutional argument: Can the president pardon himself?”
His comments came in response to a letter by the Trump legal team arguing that the president cannot commit obstruction of justice by virtue of his office, which fired up debate Sunday over presidential powers and the ongoing special counsel’s probe.
The 20-page memo, leaked to the New York Times and Fox News, said Mr. Trump’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.”
Written by Trump attorney Jay Sekulow and former legal-team member John Dowd, the letter also said that “no President has ever faced charges of obstruction merely for exercising his constitutional authority.”
The letter also said that Mr. Trump can “order the termination” of a Justice Department or FBI investigation “at any time and for any reason,” and that he has the constitutional power to “terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.”
Mr. Giuliani told ABC News on Saturday that the strategy laid out in the letter is still in place, adding that, “If [Robert] Mueller tries to subpoena us, we’re going to court,” referring to the special counsel in the Russia collusion probe.
Former U.S. Attorney for New York Preet Bharara, who was fired last year by Mr. Trump, said that defense counsel will often take “extreme positions” in communications with opposing counsel.
“It’s not crazy and it’s not unique that these folks are taking a very, very, very sort of broad position. Defense lawyers do that all the time,” Mr. Bharara said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “The difference here is they’re taking this position on behalf of the president of the United States.”
While “I think most people think that the president obviously in a special position,” Mr. Bharara added that the letter pays “lip service” to the president not being above the law, but that “most of the rest of the letter suggests that he is.”
Dated Jan. 29, 2018, the letter was titled, “Request for Testimony on Alleged Obstruction of Justice,” according to Fox News.
Asked if the legal argument laid out in the letter is commonly held, Mr. Bharara said, “Here’s the problem. It doesn’t co me up that often. It comes up almost never.”
“It’s not crazy and it’s not unique that these folks are taking a very, very, very sort of broad position,” Mr. Bharara added. “Defense lawyers do that all the time. The difference here is they’re taking this position on behalf of the president of the United States.”
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