President Donald Trump on Monday declared that he has the authority to pardon himself in any Russia investigation.
This question of pardoning has come up over the past few months as special counsel Robert Mueller and his team continue to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
“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? In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!” he wrote on Twitter.
Rudy Giuliani told ABC News global anchor George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that the president “probably does” have the ability to pardon himself.
(MORE: President Trump ‘probably does’ have the power to pardon himself: Giuliani)
“He has no intention of pardoning himself,” said Giuliani, a former mayor of New York City and Trump’s lead attorney in negotiating an end to Mueller’s ongoing investigation. “[It is a] really interesting constitutional argument: ‘Can the president pardon himself?'”
Giuliani added, “I think the political ramifications of that would be tough. Pardoning other people is one thing. Pardoning yourself is another. Other presidents have pardoned people in circumstances like this, both in their administration and sometimes the next president even of a different party will come along and pardon.”
Trump also tweeted about the special counsel investigation, saying that it was “unconstitutional.”
“The appointment of the Special Councel [sic] is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Despite that, we play the game because I, unlike the Democrats, have done nothing wrong!” he posted.
The argument that Mueller’s appointment by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is unconstitutional has found some traction within conservative media circles. Radio host Mark Levin reasoned late last month that because attorneys on Mueller’s team recently identified themselves in Virginia federal court as “Special Assistant US Attorneys” then Mueller should in turn be classified as a “roving U.S. attorney.”
“Rosenstein usurped the authority of the president of the United States to nominate whoever he wants as a prosecutor,” Levin said.
Levin said the status of Mueller’s team violates the Appointments Clause under the Constitution and publicly urged defendants called on to testify by the special counsel to challenge his authority in court.
Giuliani has previously argued that the special counsel’s investigation is “illegitimate.” But the president’s accusation is the newest escalation in the Trump legal team’s effort to discredit Mueller’s probe.