Preet Bharara says Trump pardoning himself would be 'almost self-executing impeachment'

Hannah Rogers
June 4, 2018

"Fortunately, we are a government of laws, not men".

WASHINGTON ― Candidate Donald Trump bragged that he could shoot someone on New York's Fifth Avenue and not lose any support, and now President Donald Trump's lawyer says Trump could shoot the Federal Bureau of Investigation director in the Oval Office and still not be prosecuted for it. "I think if the president decided he was going to pardon himself, I think it is nearly self-executing impeachment", Bharara said.

A weekly recap of the top political stories from The Globe, sent right to your email. Legal experts are split on the issue. Is the special counsel/Justice Department leaking my lawyers letters to the fake news media? But that number pales in comparison to the amount of money that we've spent on Trump's golf trips since taking office, which kind of blows open the conservative argument that these investigations are just too costly.

Former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, fired by Trump past 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".

The investigation led by Mr Mueller - previously appointed FBI director by former president George W Bush - has already led to criminal charges against Trump campaign aides, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Whether Trump may pardon himself is a matter of some debate. The lawyers asserted that Comey's firing was justified because it was recommended by the attorney general and deputy attorney general. But that seemed to overlook a 2002 law that makes it illegal to obstruct even proceedings that have not yet begun.

On Sunday Giuliani, by turns, said that conflicting statements about the source of Don Jr's statement were one reason he would not want the president, his client, to grant an interview to Mueller's prosecutors. "That's another really interesting constitutional question: Can the president pardon himself?" he added.

Though Giuliani pointed out that he never made the argument or held the position that President Trump has the legal, power of attorney to end an investigation into himself, he pointed out that such an action would lead to an impeachment.

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Giuliani said Stephanopoulos would have to ask Sekulow about why the earlier answer was false ("I think Jay was wrong"), but the former NYC mayor then suggested that memory was an ever-shifting thing.

House Republican Majority leader Kevin McCarthy also told CNN that no president should pardon himself. "That's not what the American people, I think, would be able to stand for".

Mueller's investigation has so far resulted in the guilty pleas of five people, including three former Trump campaign staffers, and the indictment of 14 other people and three companies.

Both Mr Trump and Russian Federation have continued to deny any collusion in the run-up to his shock election triumph, with the United States leader previously labelling the investigation a "witch hunt". By virtue of his office, the president does enjoy special protections.

Giuliani said Trump's lawyers would tell Mueller's team that "you've got everything you need, 1.4 million documents, 28 witnesses" to conclude its investigation. Independent counsel Kenneth Starr served President Bill Clinton with a subpoena to compel him to appear before a grand jury, but it was withdrawn after Clinton agreed to testify voluntarily.

A special counsel is investigating Russia's role in the 2016 election, and whether Mr Trump obstructed justice.

The letter states that the president's comments in an NBC interview have been "widely misreported and mischaracterized" to give the impression that he was thinking of Russian Federation when he fired Comey. Todd asked him to clarify whether he was making the case "that [Trump] didn't obstruct or that a president can not obstruct justice".

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