Rudy Giuliani has caused quite a stir on social media, after saying that US President Donald Trump would “probably” be able to pardon himself. He was answering a question related to Robert Mueller’s ‘Russiagate’ probe.
The president’s personal attorney made the remarks on ABC’s ‘The Week’ program on Sunday. Asked whether Trump has the power to pardon himself, Giuliani claimed the president “probably does,” adding that the constitution “doesn’t say he can’t.” The former New York mayor later conceded that such a course of action would lead to “impeachment.”
“It would be an open question,” Giuliani told the show’s host, George Stephanopoulos. “I think it would probably get answered by, gosh, that’s what the constitution says.”
Giuliani also claimed that Trump had the authority to end the investigation into him in comments that come hot on the heels of the publication of a 20-page document sent to Mueller from Trump’s legal team earlier this year. The special counsel’s investigation centers on accusations of collusion between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia.
The document outlines the president’s legal strategy and argues that Trump cannot be indicted, subpoenaed or found guilty of obstruction of justice because he is the nation’s “chief law enforcement officer.” The document also argues that Trump “could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.”
Speaking on CNN, former US attorney Preet Bharara said: “It would be outrageous” for a sitting president to pardon himself. “I think [if] the president decided he was going to pardon himself, I think that’s almost self-executing impeachment,” Bharara told CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’
On the same show, Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the president “should not” pardon himself. “The president is not saying he is going to pardon himself. The president never said he pardoned himself,” McCarthy said. “I don’t think a president should pardon themselves.”
The remarks caused a stir online. Many hit out at the idea of the president abusing the pardon power, while others raged at the perceived double standard employed by his personal attorney.
Trump has consistently rubbished the investigation into potential collusion between his campaign and Russia, labelling the probe “fake news” and a “hoax.” Only once before has he directly referenced his own presidential powers. Writing in a tweet in July 2017, the president asserted his “complete power to pardon” in response to the investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election.