White House refuses to deny reports Trump is considering pardoning himself over Russia investigation

Reports indicate that Mr Trump has been considering pardons as an option to alleviate his Russia investigation headache

Clark Mindock
New York
Friday 21 July 2017 21:49 BST
White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders
White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Getty Images)

White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders won't rule out the possibility that Donald Trump will use his pardon power to shield himself, his family, and his administration from federal lawsuits.

Ms Huckabee Sanders told reporters during her first press briefing following the resignation of Sean Spicer, who announced his resignation as White House press secretary earlier that day. Ms Huckabee Sanders is slated to take his place as press secretary.

"I'd refer you to the comments that have already been made by the outside counsel," Ms Huckabee Sanders said when asked about the President's position on pardons.

"The President maintains pardon powers like any president would," she continued, before adding that "there are no announcements" about pardons right now.

News that Mr Trump and his attorney have been considering pardoning individuals who are potentially under investigation for having 2016 campaign ties to Russia has sent shock waves through Washington. Many have argued that Mr Trump doing something like that could lead to a constitutional crisis in the US, although other legal experts have taken issue with that classification.

It isn't clear if the President would be able to pardon himself to protect himself from potential jail time as a result of federal lawsuits. As president, Mr Trump is the sole individual capable of granting pardons for federal crimes, and would be able to protect his family and any allies he chooses to. If he chose to do so, however, he may have to bypass typical protocol for pardons.

"Anybody who tells you definitively the president can or cannot pardon himself is making more of a normative argument or prediction then a declaration of what the law is," Michael Dorf, a constitutional law professor at Cornell University, told The Independent, noting that there is potential case law to support either argument, but that it has never been attempted before so it is impossible to tell what the courts would ultimately decide on the matter.

Mr Trump's campaign ties to Russia have resulted in an ongoing scandal in Washington, and the Justice Department has assigned a well known and respected fromer FBI director to head up a special investigation into the matter. The former director, Robert Mueller, has reportedly put together an all star legal team to investigate Russia's meddling, and has expanded it's scope several times to include a meeting between Donald Trump Jr, Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, former campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski and several individuals connected to Russia. That meeting was prefaced by the promise that those individuals connected to Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton supplied by the Russian government.

The investigation is also reportedly expanding to include Mr Trump's potential financial ties to Russia.

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