WASHINGTON — Former US attorney Preet Bharara said Sunday that it “would be outrageous” for a sitting president to pardon himself, which President Donald Trump’s lawyers appear to argue in a letter sent to special counsel Robert Mueller.
“I think (if) the President decided he was going to pardon himself, I think that’s almost self-executing impeachment,” Bharara, a CNN legal analyst, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “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. That’s not what the American people, I think, would be able to stand for.”
The comments come after The New York Times published a 20-page letter to special counsel Robert Mueller by Trump attorney Jay Sekulow and then-Trump lawyer John Dowd. They argue that the President could not possibly have committed obstruction in the Russia investigation because the Constitution empowers him to “terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.”
Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani said on Sunday that the President is not going to pardon himself but “probably does” have the power to do it.
“He has no intention of pardoning himself,” Giuliani told ABC’s “This Week,” adding that the Constitution appears to allow it. “It would be an open question. I think it would probably get answered by gosh, that’s what the Constitution says, and if you want to change it, change it. But yes.”
Giuliani told ABC that he is still leaning against recommending that Trump do an interview with Mueller, but “we want to keep an open mind” if the special counsel can keep it brief and to a narrow set of topics.