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 McConnellLawmakers run into major speed bumps on spending bills Budowsky: Donald, Boris, Bibi — The right in retreat Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters Tuesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump conversation with foreign leader part of complaint that led to standoff between intel chief, Congress: report Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Trump to withdraw FEMA chief nominee: report 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 SessionsPelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Democrats bicker over strategy on impeachment McCabe says he would 'absolutely not' cut a deal with prosecutors 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 CollinsGOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan Sinema touts bipartisan record as Arizona Democrats plan censure vote The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico 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 CapitoThis week: House jump-starts effort to prevent shutdown Congress set to ignore Trump's wall request in stopgap measure America is in desperate need of infrastructure investment: Senate highway bill a step in the right direction 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.