Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani says president probably can pardon himself

WASHINGTON, June 3 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump, under pressure from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. election, probably has the power to pardon himself but does not plan to do so, his attorney Rudy Giuliani said on Sunday.

Asked whether Trump has the power to give himself a pardon, Giuliani said, "He's not, but he probably does." Giuliani added that Trump "has no intention of pardoning himself," but that the U.S. Constitution, which gives a president the authority to issue pardons, "doesn't say he can't."

Speaking on ABC's "This Week" program, Giuliani added, "It would be an open question. I think it would probably get answered by, gosh, that's what the Constitution says."

Mueller is investigating whether Russia meddled in the presidential election and whether Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow. Mueller, whose investigation already has led to criminal charges against Trump campaign aides including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, is also looking into whether Trump unlawfully sought to obstruct the Russia investigation.

Both Russia and Trump deny collusion, and the president has denied obstructing the probe.


33 PHOTOS
All of President Trump's tweets about the Mueller Russia probe
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All of President Trump's tweets about the Mueller Russia probe
So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were “leaked” to the media. No questions on Col… https://t.co/T2n7SAWgJp
There was no Collusion (it is a Hoax) and there is no Obstruction of Justice (that is a setup & trap). What there i… https://t.co/WU8JFuWLJi
House Intelligence Committee rules that there was NO COLLUSION between the Trump Campaign and Russia. As I have bee… https://t.co/n4809kuVx3
Just Out: House Intelligence Committee Report released. “No evidence” that the Trump Campaign “colluded, coordinate… https://t.co/3erasoPL4N
This memo totally vindicates “Trump” in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion an… https://t.co/GPYj4JbKgN
It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened! Witch Hunt!
This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!
You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history - led by some very bad and conflicted people! #MAGA
“Russians had no compromising information on Donald Trump” @FoxNews Of course not, because there is none, and neve… https://t.co/R9sniNq1ar
Congratulations to @ABC News for suspending Brian Ross for his horrendously inaccurate and dishonest report on the… https://t.co/wEVP4iGN6n
The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was base… https://t.co/oMCKEA7WmJ
The 13 Angry Democrats in charge of the Russian Witch Hunt are starting to find out that there is a Court System in… https://t.co/W32TtSNOrw
A must watch: Legal Scholar Alan Dershowitz was just on @foxandfriends talking of what is going on with respect to… https://t.co/EZ7cdgtUUo
A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!
A complete Witch Hunt!
The Russia Witch Hunt is rapidly losing credibility. House Intelligence Committee found No Collusion, Coordination… https://t.co/MMfLEunjG6
The single greatest Witch Hunt in American history continues. There was no collusion, everybody including the Dems… https://t.co/j7rc1QKCLw
James Comey Memos just out and show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION. Also, he leaked classif… https://t.co/YfMYBrTkza
As the phony Russian Witch Hunt continues, two groups are laughing at this excuse for a lost election taking hold, Democrats and Russians!
...case against him & now wants to clear his name by showing "the false or misleading testimony by James Comey, John Brennan..." Witch Hunt!
The MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN agenda is doing very well despite the distraction of the Witch Hunt. Many new jobs, high business enthusiasm,..
Jared Kushner did very well yesterday in proving he did not collude with the Russians. Witch Hunt. Next up, 11 year old Barron Trump!
When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end?
My son Donald did a good job last night. He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!
Despite the phony Witch Hunt going on in America, the economic & jobs numbers are great. Regulations way down, jobs and enthusiasm way up!
A total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!
Is this Phony Witch Hunt going to go on even longer so it wrongfully impacts the Mid-Term Elections, which is what… https://t.co/7LtsbGyV80
The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was base… https://t.co/oMCKEA7WmJ
Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democr… https://t.co/eA1AtTPv49
“Special Council is told to find crimes, whether a crime exists or not. I was opposed to the selection of Mueller t… https://t.co/KYsOPqiVBG
I have agreed with the historically cooperative, disciplined approach that we have engaged in with Robert Mueller (… https://t.co/yjSuYhmzJb
Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? An… https://t.co/wKNAVhWJcz
If I wanted to fire Robert Mueller in December, as reported by the Failing New York Times, I would have fired him.… https://t.co/wi7FDNjqK7
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Giuliani noted that the political ramifications of a self-pardon could be severe. Giuliani told NBC's "Meet the Press with Chuck Todd" that "the president of the United States pardoning himself would just be unthinkable. And it would lead to probably an immediate impeachment."

Under the Constitution, a president can be impeached by the House of Representatives and then removed from office by the Senate.

The possibility of a self-pardon appeared to be raised in a Jan. 29 letter from Trump's lawyers to Mueller, published by the New York Times on Saturday, arguing that the president could not have obstructed the probe given the powers granted to him by the Constitution.

"It remains our position that the President's actions here, by virtue of his position as the chief law enforcement officer, could neither constitutionally nor legally constitute obstruction because that would amount to him obstructing himself, and that he could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired," Trump's lawyers wrote.

The letter did not explicitly describe the possibility of Trump pardoning himself.

Whether Trump may pardon himself is a matter of some debate.

A Justice Department memo dated four days before former President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 during the Watergate political corruption scandal took the view that "under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the President cannot pardon himself."

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, made clear he did not think Trump or any other president should pardon himself. "I don't think a president should pardon themselves," he told CNN's "State of the Union."

'MINOR LEGAL ARGUMENT'

Former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, fired by Trump last year along with numerous other federal prosecutors, said it would be "outrageous" for a sitting president to pardon himself and that doing so would represent "almost self-executing impeachment."

"Whether or not there is a minor legal argument that some law professor somewhere in a legal journal can make that the president can pardon, that's not what the framers could have intended," Bharara said on said on CNN's "State of the Union" program, referring to the authors of the Constitution.

Trump has not been shy about using his pardon power.

The president on Thursday pardoned conservative commentator and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to U.S. campaign finance law violations.

Trump also said he was considering pardoning lifestyle maven Martha Stewart and commuting the prison sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, convicted of corruption charges. Critics accused Trump of subverting the rule of law.

Giuliani told ABC it is an "open question" whether Trump would sit for an interview with Mueller but that the president's lawyers were leaning against having him testify.

Giuliani also said the president's legal team planned to challenge any potential subpoena from Mueller's office as harassment or as unnecessary because the White House has turned over more than a million documents and several witnesses.

Trump took to Twitter on Sunday to again rage against the FBI and Justice Department, saying he would not have hired Manafort if he had been told Manafort was already under investigation.

12 PHOTOS
Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort through the years
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Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort through the years
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign chair and convention manager Paul Manafort speaks at a press conference at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, U.S., July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as his campaign manager Paul Manafort (C) and daughter Ivanka (R) look on during Trump's walk through at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, U.S., July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign chair and convention manager Paul Manafort appears at a press conference at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, U.S., July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort talks to the media from the Trump family box on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Paul Manafort, senior advisor to Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, smiles as he talks with other Trump campaign staff after Trump spoke to supporters following the results of the Indiana state primary, at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump's senior campaign adviser Paul Manafort (L) walks into a reception with former Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, at the Republican National Committee Spring Meeting at the Diplomat Resort in Hollywood, Florida, April 21, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 21: Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort listens to Ivanka Trump speak at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 21, 2016. (Photo by Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 20: A man with a security credential takes a selfie at the podium as Donald Trump, flanked by campaign manager Paul Manafort and daughter Ivanka, checks the podium early Thursday afternoon in preparation for accepting the GOP nomination to be President at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on Wednesday July 20, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JULY 19: Paul Manafort, advisor to Donald Trump, is seen on the floor of the Quicken Loans Arena at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 19, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Paul Manafort., Convention Manager, Trump Campaign, appears on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday April 10, 2016. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
NA.R.DoleMicCk1.081596.RG.Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole looks up from podium at balloons and television cameras as convention center manager Paul Manafort, at right, points out preparations for tonight's acceptance speech in San Diego, 08/15/96. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 21: Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Lee Atwater, young Republicans political operatives who have set up lobbying firms. (Photo by Harry Naltchayan/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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"As only one of two people left who could become President, why wouldn't the FBI or Department of 'Justice' have told me that they were secretly investigating Paul Manafort (on charges that were 10 years old and had been previously dropped) during my campaign? Should have told me!" Trump tweeted.

"Paul Manafort came into the campaign very late and was with us for a short period of time ... but we should have been told that Comey and the boys were doing a number on him, and he wouldn't have been hired!" Trump wrote, referring to former FBI Director James Comey, who Trump fired last year.

(Reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb and Arshad Mohammed; Additional reporting by Alexia Garamfalvi in New York Writing by Arshad Mohammed Editing by Will Dunham)

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