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Trump Claims ‘Complete Power’ to Grant Pardons

Jul 22, 2017

President Donald Trump issued nearly a dozen tweets on a range of subjects early Saturday morning, but the standout was an assertion that he has “complete power” to issue pardons.

The tweet was an apparent response to a Washington Post report on Thursday that the president has asked advisors about the extent of his power to pardon his family, staff, and even himself for federal crimes. The inquiry reportedly came as part of a larger effort by Trump to undermine the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian election interference and possible collusion between Russian state actors and the Trump campaign.

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According to legal experts surveyed by Vox and CNN, however, the Constitution is not entirely clear on whether a president can pardon himself. Such a move could trigger a constitutional crisis, and would certainly have substantial political costs for Trump because it would carry a strong implication of guilt.

Trump returned to several familiar topics in the same string of tweets. Highlights included decrying intelligence leaks to news media about contacts between Russian officials and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, resurrecting suspicions surrounding missing emails from Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, and exhorting GOP senators to continue working on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, which showed new life this week after being presumed dead.

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