Barr, White House counsel told Trump not to self-pardon: report

Former Attorney General William Barr and White House counsel Pat Cipollone reportedly told President Trump not to pardon himself, CNN reported on Monday

Multiple sources familiar with the matter told CNN that both Cipollone and Barr have recommended Trump avoid a self-pardon, which would apply to federal crimes, with the former attorney general giving such advice before resigning last month. 

Barr reportedly pointed to a 1974 Justice Department legal memo that concludes a president should not pardon himself, although the process has not been tested.

“Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the President cannot pardon himself,” the memo reads. 

The White House counsel has not requested the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel review the issue, two sources told the network. 

CNN noted that both Barr and Cipollone previously defended Trump’s use of executive power but have recently broken with the president on his unfounded claims of widespread election fraud. Barr resigned after saying his department had found no evidence of fraud. Cipollone reportedly has also considered leaving the administration.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the CNN report, and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Citing two people familiar, The New York Times reported last week that Trump had openly talked about possibly pardoning himself and his adult children. It is unclear if he has mulled a self-pardon since a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol last Wednesday, which led to five deaths. 

Karl Racine, D.C. attorney general, has said he remained open to pursuing charges against Trump, and Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, told NPR he’s prepared to bring charges against elected officials if the evidence supports that. 

Trump’s encouragement for his supporters to come to D.C. and march on the Capitol “to show strength” and “fight like hell” in opposition to the Electoral College vote count has led to accusations that he incited a violent raid of the Capitol. The president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, whom Trump has reportedly considered pardoning, called for a “trial by combat” ahead of the violence.   

One person close to the White House told CNN that “the situation in DC has raised issues within the White House even on the pardons,” as Trump is expected to issue more before leaving office.

The memo that Barr reportedly cited in his argument against self-pardons does say a president could resign and be pardoned by the vice president once they are sworn in, as Gerald Ford did for Richard Nixon in 1974.

But two separate sources close to Vice President Pence said it was highly unlikely he would pardon Trump in this circumstance. Pence and Trump spoke for the first time on Monday since the riots, which forced the vice president to be evacuated from the Senate, angering Pence

Updated 10:05 a.m.

Tags Capitol Capitol breach Capitol raid Capitol Riots CNN Donald Trump Justice Department Mike Pence Pardon pardons presidential pardon Rudy Giuliani self-pardon Trump pardons White House William Barr

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