GOP leader says question of Trump self-pardon is 'academic'

GOP leader says question of Trump self-pardon is 'academic'
© Greg Nash

Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynHillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Bipartisan group of senators introduces legislation to boost state cybersecurity leadership Koch network could target almost 200 races in 2020, official says MORE (Texas) told reporters Monday that the question of whether President TrumpDonald John TrumpNational Archives says it altered Trump signs, other messages in Women's March photo Dems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Democratic lawmaker dismisses GOP lawsuit threat: 'Take your letter and shove it' MORE can pardon himself is “academic” and a “distraction.”

Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate leadership, gave no hint of what Congress would do if Trump tried to give himself a pardon.

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“I think that’s an academic argument — sounds like a debate law students would have over what the technical power is. I think it’s a distraction because so far there’s been, on a bipartisan basis, a conclusion that there’s no evidence of collusion,” Cornyn told reporters.

He noted that former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyNYT: Justice investigating alleged Comey leak of years-old classified info Bernie-Hillary echoes seen in Biden-Sanders primary fight Rosenstein on his time in Trump administration: 'We got all the big issues right' MORE told Trump that he was not the target of an FBI investigation so the president’s firing of him in 2017 can’t be construed as obstruction of justice.

Asked what Congress would do if Trump pardoned himself, Cornyn said, “That would be more of a political matter than anything else.”

He dismissed the possibility that Trump would go that far.

“I don’t think there’s any evidence of obstruction,” he added.

He said the pardon talk “is a distraction because I don’t think it will happen.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate begins preparations for Trump trial Big Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat Appeals court skeptical of Trump rule on TV drug ads MORE (R-Iowa) told CNN earlier Monday that Trump should considered shaking up his legal team.

“If I were president of the United States and I had a lawyer that told me I could pardon myself, I think I would hire a new lawyer,” he said.

Cornyn, a former Texas Supreme Court justice, however, declined to give Trump any similar legal advice.

“He can choose his own lawyer,” he said.