The Slatest

Giuliani Says Trump “Probably Does” Have Power to Pardon Himself

Rudy Giuliani speaks to members of the media during a White House Sports and Fitness Day at the South Lawn of the White House May 30, 2018 in Washington, D.C.
Rudy Giuliani speaks to members of the media during a White House Sports and Fitness Day at the South Lawn of the White House May 30, 2018 in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Donald Trump’s lead attorney Rudy Giuliani said that Trump likely could pardon himself if he wanted to, although he emphasized that’s not something that is in the cards, at least for now. “He’s not, but he probably does,” Giuliani said on ABC’s This Week. “He has no intention of pardoning himself, but he probably does. It doesn’t say he can’t.” Giuliani then chuckled a bit and called it “a really interesting constitutional argument.” The former New York City mayor said he would have to run it by experts but he seems to be confident he knows what the answer would be. “It would be an open question,” he said. “I think it would probably get answered by, gosh, that’s what the Constitution says.”

Giuliani’s answer illustrates just how broad Trump’s team is arguing the president’s powers are to push back against Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. In a letter published Saturday by the New York Times, Trump’s lawyers argued that the president couldn’t have possibly obstructed justice because he has power over all federal investigations. In the Jan. 29 letter, Trump’s lawyers said that the Constitution gives the president the power to “terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon.”

Giuliani did go on to recognize that a self-pardon wouldn’t exactly be an easy proposition. “I think the political ramifications of that would be tough,” he said. “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.”

At least some of Trump’s Republican allies are warning the president shouldn’t even think of the possibility. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy made it clear Sunday that he doesn’t think the president should pardon himself. “The president is not saying he is going to pardon himself. The president never said he pardoned himself,” McCarthy told CNN’s State of the Union. “I don’t think a president should pardon themselves.”

Some are warning the potential consequences of a self-pardon could be disastrous for the president. Former US attorney Preet Bharara said Sunday that not only would it be “outrageous” for a sitting president to pardon himself, it would also likely mark the end of his presidency. “If the President decided he was going to pardon himself, I think that’s almost self-executing impeachment,” Bharara 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.”