President Donald Trump doesn’t intend to pardon himself, Rudy Giuliani said on Sunday ― but he “probably does” have the power to do so.
“He has no intention of pardoning himself ... not to say he can’t,” Giuliani, a lawyer and adviser to Trump on the Russia probe, told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. He characterized the question of a self-pardon as a “really interesting constitutional argument.”
“I think the political ramifications of that would be tough,” he said. “Pardoning other people is one thing. Pardoning yourself is another.”
In another Sunday interview, this one on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Giuliani took a stronger stand on both the unlikeliness of such a move, and the possibility for political fallout.
“It’s not going to happen,” he said, arguing that Trump had done nothing wrong that would require him to pardon himself.
He added that “the president of the United States pardoning himself is unthinkable... it would probably lead to immediate impeachment.”
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also weighed in against the idea. “I don’t think a president should pardon themselves,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Preet Bharara, a former U.S. attorney fired by Trump, said on the same program that the idea of the president deciding to pardon himself as “almost self-executing impeachment.”
Giuliani said on “Meet The Press” that Trump has the power to terminate any federal investigation, although he described such a move as “a very unrealistic thing.”
“The Department of Justice is a creature of the president,” he said. “I know based on presidential rulings... [the] Justice Department is given a certain amount of independence. I am tremendously in favor of it, but that’s all the president’s decision.”
The president’s lawyer defended Trump’s shifting explanations about a meeting with Russians at Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign that included his son, Donald Trump Jr. “This is the reason you don’t let the president testify” as part of the special counsel probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Giuliani told ABC. “Our recollection keeps changing, or we’re not even asked a question and somebody makes an assumption.”
He predicted that special counsel Robert Mueller would wrap up his investigation by the start of this September. “He’s as sensitive as everybody to not doing another Comey and interfering horribly in the election,” Giuliani said.
He was referring to then-FBI Director’s Jim Comey announcement less than two weeks before the 2016 vote that the agency was reopening aspects of its probe into Democratic candidate’s Hillary Clinton’s private use of email when she served as secretary of state. Although days later Comey said the probe was again being closed without charges being filed, Clinton has blamed his initial announcement as a key reason Trump went on to defeat her.