Talk of Trump pardons reverberates on Sunday shows
Talk of presidential pardons reverberated on this week’s Sunday shows following President Trump’s tweet saying he “has the complete power” to forgive offenses.
Jay Sekulow, Trump’s attorney, emphasized during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” that he and the president have not discussed the issue of presidential pardons.
“We have not and I continue to not have conversations with the president of the United States about pardons,” said Sekulow.
The president’s attorney also stressed that there would be no reason for Trump to pardon anyone in connection with the Russia investigation.
“We’re not researching the issue because the issue of pardons is not on the table. There’s nothing to pardon from,” Sekulow said.
The new wrinkle comes as the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s election meddling and any potential ties between Trump campaign staff members and the Kremlin deepens.
“While all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us.FAKE NEWS,” Trump tweeted Saturday. The Washington Post reported last week that Trump’s lawyers had begun discussing the presidential authority to pardon as it relates to the Russia probe.
But individuals close to Trump on Sunday emphasized that pardons are not on the table because they don’t need to be.
“I think the gist of that leak, basically, or that tweet, I should say, is that he’s not going to pardon anybody,” said newly appointed White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“He doesn’t need to pardon anybody,” Scaramucci added.
The chatter surrounding possible pardons has lead to a legal discussion over whether or not the president could actually pardon himself.
Obama administration ethics czar Norman Eisen, along with the chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, Richard Painter, and Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe argued last week that the Constitution says presidents cannot pardon themselves.
“The Constitution specifically bars the president from using the pardon power to prevent his own impeachment and removal,” the three men wrote in a Friday op-ed for The Washington Post.
“It adds that any official removed through impeachment remains fully subject to criminal prosecution. That provision would make no sense if the president could pardon himself.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), however, said during a discussion with CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that Trump likely does have the power to pardon himself.
“I think in all likelihood he does,” Paul said. “I think that some of this hasn’t been adjudicated.”
Sekulow also noted on Sunday that the issue has not been adjudicated, saying a court would need to decide if the president could grant himself a pardon.
Still, Paul said he would warn a president against issuing their own pardon or pardoning family members.
“I think in a political sphere, I would caution someone to think about pardoning themselves or family members or et cetera,” said Paul.
The special counsel is reportedly investigating various avenues as it conducts the Russia probe, including the business dealings of Jared Kushner, who serves as a senior adviser to Trump and is his son-in-law.
The possibilities of pardons has troubled Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is leading the upper chamber’s Russia probe. Warner said earlier this month that he was worried Trump could pardon individuals in connection with the Russia investigation.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) echoed these fears on Sunday, advising Trump not to issue any pardons.
“If he fired [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller or pardoned himself or someone close to him under investigation, it would be one of the greatest, greatest breaking of rule of law, of traditional democratic norms of what our democracy is about,” Schumer told ABC’s “This Week.”
“I think it would cause a cataclysm in Washington. I cannot imagine our Republican colleagues, including Ryan and Mitch McConnell, just standing by if he were to do either of those things.”
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