Trump says he has 'absolute right' to pardon himself

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump yesterday said he had committed no wrongdoing but had "absolute" legal power to pardon himself, echoing an argument put forth by his lawyers in a memo to the US special counsel investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.

In the memo, reported by the New York Times last Saturday, Mr Trump's lawyers argued the President could not have obstructed the probe, given the powers granted to him by the US Constitution.

The 20-page letter to Mr Robert Mueller in January was in response to repeated requests by the special counsel's office asking to interview Mr Trump.

"As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?" Mr Trump wrote in a Twitter post yesterday, reiterating his claim that the Russia investigation was a "witch hunt".

"The appointment of the Special Councel (sic) is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL," Mr Trump said in another post.

Russia has denied US intelligence agencies' assessment that Moscow sought to interfere with the 2016 US election to boost Mr Trump's prospects of becoming president. Mr Trump has also said there was no collusion.

On Sunday, one of Mr Trump's attorneys, Rudy Giuliani, said in an interview on ABC's This Week programme that the President probably has the power to pardon himself, but does not plan to do so.

Several pardons already issued by Mr Trump, including one last week for a conservative pundit convicted of campaign finance crimes, also have raised questions about his use of the presidential pardon power and spurred some constitutional scholars, legal analysts and Democratic lawmakers to accuse him of undermining the rule of law with pardons based on political considerations.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 05, 2018, with the headline 'Trump says he has 'absolute right' to pardon himself'. Print Edition | Subscribe