Trump 'disturbed' after learning Russia investigation can easily access his tax returns

He's reportedly considering using his presidential power to pardon to shield his family and allies from prosecution

Clark Mindock
New York
Friday 21 July 2017 22:34 BST
Mueller is leading the Russian probe
Mueller is leading the Russian probe (AFP)

There may not be a lot that Donald Trump likes about the special investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election ran by Robert Mueller, but the President is especially unhappy that it now includes a look at his tax returns.

The President has been disturbed by the disclosure that Mr Mueller could access his personal tax returns without even requesting them from him, according to the Washington Post, since the Internal Revenue Service could provide those documents. Mr Trump has repeatedly refused to release his tax returns publicly, a break in tradition for presidents dating back several decades.

While more and more information has become openly available through reports from media organisations, Mr Mueller’s investigation has trudged silently on and has reportedly broadened considerably. The investigation has begun to take a look at Mr Trump’s business transactions, reports earlier this week indicated.

The news of that expanded focus came just after Mr Trump conducted an on-the-record interview with the New York Times in which he accused the Mueller investigation of being riddled with conflicts of interest. During that interview, Mr Trump indicated that the investigation would be crossing a line if it were to expand to include a look at his family’s finances.

Mr Trump is now reportedly considering his options, alongside his legal counsel. Those options reportedly include the possibility of Mr Trump using his presidential pardon powers to shield his family and close allies from potential legal fallout from whatever the investigation dredges up. He is also reportedly considering if it is possible for him to pardon himself as president — although it is unclear if the Constitution would allow such a manoeuvre.

Should Mr Trump decide to do so, a final decision likely wouldn’t be made until after he leaves office. It appears unlikely that Mr Mueller would attempt to prosecute the President while in office, so he would have to wait until after he left. At that point, it would be up to the courts to decide if Mr Trump was legally capable of pardoning himself.

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