Trump has discussed pardoning himself: New York Times

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump has said he is considering pardoning himself in discussions with aides since the November election, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump looks on at the end of his speech during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File Photo

The newspaper cited two unidentified people with knowledge of the discussions about what would be an extraordinary use of presidential power by Republican Trump, who lost the election to Democrat Joe Biden.

“In several conversations since Election Day, Mr. Trump has told advisers that he is considering giving himself a pardon and, in other instances, asked whether he should and what the effect would be on him legally and politically, according to the two people,” the Times reported.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The newspaper said it was not clear whether he had discussed the matter since the storming of the U.S. Capitol by his supporters on Wednesday, which has prompted calls for his removal from office by the top two Democrats in Congress.

Trump, who has issued a series of pardons to political allies and friends, said in a 2018 Twitter post that “I have the absolute right to PARDON myself.”

Trump’s term ends on Jan. 20 and he faces state legal actions that would not be covered by a federal pardon. They include a criminal probe by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and a civil probe by New York Attorney General Letitia James into whether he inflated asset values to obtain loans and tax benefits in his business dealings.

Constitutional lawyers say there is not a definitive answer on whether a president can lawfully issue a self-pardon. No president has tried it before, so the courts have not weighed in.

“When people ask me if a president can pardon himself, my answer is always, ‘Well, he can try,’” said Brian Kalt, a constitutional law professor at Michigan State University. “The Constitution does not provide a clear answer on this.”

Some legal experts have said a self-pardon would be unconstitutional because it violates the principle that nobody should be the judge in his or her own case.

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