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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 McConnellBiden leans on Obama-era appointees on climate Kentucky Republican committee rejects resolution urging McConnell to condemn Trump impeachment Calls grow for 9/11-style panel to probe Capitol attack MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters Tuesday that President TrumpDonald TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call 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 SessionsHarris to resign from Senate seat on Monday Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' Sessions, top DOJ officials knew 'zero tolerance' would separate families, watchdog finds 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 CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds GOP senators say only a few Republicans will vote to convict Trump For Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief 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 CapitoThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds Bipartisan Senate gang to talk with Biden aide on coronavirus relief McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time 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.