Schumer: 'If a president can pardon himself,' this isn't a democracy

Schumer: 'If a president can pardon himself,' this isn't a democracy
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerCollins walks impeachment tightrope 'Emotion' from Trump's legal team wins presidential plaudits Biden says he would not engage in witness swap in impeachment trial MORE (D-N.Y.) ripped President TrumpDonald John TrumpMnuchin knocks Greta Thunberg's activism: Study economics and then 'come back' to us The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial MORE's assertion that he has the ability to pardon himself, arguing that power would mean America was no longer a democracy. 

"If a president can pardon himself, it's virtually a monarchy, at least as far as the president is concerned. If the presidents had the power to pardon themselves, we'd no longer be a democracy," Schumer said from the Senate floor on Monday. 

“As the Department of Justice legal counsel wrote four days before Nixon resigned, ‘Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the president cannot pardon himself,'" he added.

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Schumer's comments come hours after Trump elevated fears of a constitutional crisis by claiming he can use his presidential powers to protect himself amid special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay MORE’s ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and any possible conspiracy with the Trump campaign.

“As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” the president wrote in a tweet on Monday morning.

In response to questions about the tweet, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that “certainly, no one is above the law.”

“Thankfully, the president hasn’t done anything wrong and wouldn’t have any need for a pardon," she said.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told ABC News's “This Week” that the president “probably” does have the power to issue himself a pardon, but warned that it would spark political backlash.  

“I think the political ramifications of that would be tough. Pardoning other people is one thing. Pardoning yourself is another,” Giuliani said.

Schumer argued that Trump's tweets, including a separate one where he called Mueller's probe "unconstitutional," underscore the "increasing desperation on the part of the president." 

"For a man who constantly proclaims his innocence, President Trump is doing an awfully good impersonation of someone who believes he has something to hide," Schumer said.