GOP leader says question of Trump self-pardon is ‘academic’

Greg Nash

Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (Texas) told reporters Monday that the question of whether President Trump 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.


“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 Comey 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 Grassley (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. 

Tags Chuck Grassley Donald Trump James Comey John Cornyn
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