McConnell: Trump 'obviously' would not pardon himself

McConnell: Trump 'obviously' would not pardon himself
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump: Green New Deal 'the most preposterous thing' and 'easy to beat' 2020 Dems avoid this year's AIPAC conference GOP eager to exploit Dem court-packing fight MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters Tuesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate GOP budget ignores Trump, cuts defense Trump says he'll nominate Stephen Moore to Fed White House: ISIS territory in Syria has been 100 percent eliminated MORE shouldn’t pardon himself and dismissed the likelihood that the legal question will ever come up.

“I don’t think the president needs any advice on pardoning himself. He obviously knows that’s not something he would or should do,” McConnell said at a leadership press conference.

But McConnell declined to render judgment on whether Trump has the legal authority to pardon himself, dismissing it as “an academic discussion.”

“I don’t know the answer to that,” he said.

McConnell also voiced strong support for embattled Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump says 'people will not stand' for Mueller report Jeff Sessions returns to Justice Department to retrieve Cabinet chair Rosenstein still working at DOJ despite plans to leave in mid-March MORE, who has come under increasing public fire from the president.

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“He is very popular with our members and I hope he will remain in the job,” McConnell said, noting that Sessions was a former member of the Senate.

Sessions was spotted walking into McConnell’s office for an evening meeting shortly before the Memorial Day recess.

A spokesman for McConnell said it’s not unusual for the GOP leader to meet with Cabinet members, but did not confirm the meeting.

McConnell’s comments came in response to several tweets by the president that have spurred much debate and speculation in Washington over the past week.

Trump on Monday declared that he has an “absolute right” to pardon himself, citing “numerous legal scholars,” but argued he had no reason to do so because he’s not committed any crimes. 

The president has also repeatedly criticized Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

There is a growing chorus of Senate Republicans warning Trump to back off talk about having the power to pardon himself. 

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate GOP poised to go 'nuclear' on Trump picks Overnight Health Care: CDC pushes for expanding HIV testing, treatment | Dem group launches ads attacking Trump on Medicare, Medicaid cuts | Hospitals, insurers spar over surprise bills | O'Rourke under pressure from left on Medicare for all Dem group launches ads attacking Trump's 'hypocrisy on Medicare and Medicaid cuts' MORE (R-Maine) said that while she hasn’t taken a side in the constitutional debate, she fears a presidential self-pardon would create a political crisis.

“It’s an open question among constitutional scholars but there’s no doubt that it would cause irreparable harm to the president’s own presidency,” she said.

Other Republicans pushed back on Trump’s claim for “absolute” pardon authority earlier in the week. 

Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoPence, GOP senators discuss offer to kill Trump emergency disapproval resolution Bipartisan think tank to honor lawmakers who offer 'a positive tenor' Trump tries to win votes in Senate fight MORE (R-W.Va.) told The Hill Monday: “It doesn’t make sense to me. I certainly don’t think it would be a welcome strategy.”

Updated at 3:18 p.m.