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 McConnellOvernight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Senators reach .5B deal on Trump's emergency border request Senators reach .5B deal on Trump's emergency border request MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters Tuesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally 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 SessionsThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump to kick off bid for second term in Florida The Hill's Morning Report - Trump to kick off bid for second term in Florida Sarah Sanders to leave White House 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 CollinsOvernight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Senators revive effort to create McCain human rights commission 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 CapitoBipartisan senators propose forcing EPA to set drinking water standard for 'forever chemicals' Bipartisan senators propose forcing EPA to set drinking water standard for 'forever chemicals' August recess under threat as yearly spending bills pile up 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.