Attorney says Trump can pardon himself…but won’t
Developments on Day 500 of the Trump Administration:
Giuliani: Trump Can’t Testify Because He Might Perjure Himself
Trying again to defend Donald Trump from the Trump-Russia investigation, the President’s attorney Rudy Giuliani only succeeds in raising more questions about possible political and criminal offenses.
Giuliani appeared on two Sunday morning political talk shows, a day after The New York Times — possibly in a leak from the Trump camp — revealed that other Trump attorneys sent a 20-page letter to Special Counsel Robert Mueller in January, asserting that the President cannot have obstructed justice because of his sweeping executive power.
The Trump team is trying to block any Trump testimony to Mueller if he is subpoenaed by the Special Counsel.
Asked if Trump has the ability to pardon himself over matters such as obstruction of justice, Giuliani responded, “He probably does. He has no intention of pardoning himself, but he probably — not to say he can’t.”
The attorney put out the defense that each of the possible Trump transgressions — including the latest confirmation that Trump dictated a false statement by his son Donald Jr. over a June 2016 meeting with three Kremlin-linked envoy, after 10 months of denials by the Trump camp — could be covered by other explanations:
For every one these things he did, we can write out five reasons why he did it. Four of them are completely innocent, and one of them is your assumption that it’s a guilty motive, which the president would deny.
Then Giuliani effectively said that Trump cannot be allowed to accept a Mueller subpoena to answer questions because Trump is likely to perjure himself: “This is the reason you don’t let the president testify. Our recollection keeps changing, or we’re not even asked a question and somebody makes an assumption.”
Since he joined Trump’s legal team in April, Giuliani — reportedly in tactics devised with Trump, shutting out other advisors — has pursued a series of confusing and ultimately damaging PR campaigns to make controversies and the Trump-Russia investigation go away.
Last month the attorney made a high-profile attempt to sweep aside the $150,000 paid in “hush money” in October to porn star Stormy Daniels, so she would not speak out before the Presidential election over a claimed 2006 sexual encounter with Trump. The effort only established that Trump, despite his denials, knew about the payment by his personal attorney Michael Cohen.
The confusion continued on Sunday amid rambling, often unclear statements by the former New York City mayor. After saying in the first TV interview that Trump can pardon himself, Giuliani tried to erase the statement in the second appearance: “It’s not going to happen. It’s a hypothetical point.”
Still, Republican legislators continued to try and push back the Trump-Russia waves. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, considered a front-runner to become the next House speaker, insisted:
What I was concerned most about, like most Americans, was there any collusion. There was no collusion….
Let them walk through their investigation. But I think, if there is no collusion, it’s time to wind this down.
Giuliani added another colorful twist later Sunday when he explained to The Huffington Post that Trump can never be indicted while he is President:
In no case can he be subpoenaed or indicted. I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is….
If he shot James Comey [the FBI director fired by Trump in May 2017 to try and halt the Trump-Russia inquiry], he’d be impeached the next day. Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him.
Trump Distances Himself from Ex-Campaign Manager Manafort
In a further sign of concern about new revelations from the Russia investigation, Donald Trump distances himself from advisor and former campaign manager Paul Manafort.
Trump tweeted on Sunday about Manafort, who was indicted last October on money laundering and tax charges:
As only one of two people left who could become President, why wouldn’t the FBI or Department of “Justice” have told me that they were secretly investigating Paul Manafort (on charges that were 10 years old and had been previously dropped) during my campaign? Should have told me!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2018
….Paul Manafort came into the campaign very late and was with us for a short period of time (he represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole & many others over the years), but we should have been told that Comey and the boys were doing a number on him, and he wouldn’t have been hired!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2018
In fact, Manafort was brought into the Trump campaign in February 2016, becoming campaign manager five months later. One of Manafort’s daughters texted her sister during the spring, that her father and Trump “are literally living in the same building and…they go up and down all day long hanging and plotting together”.
Even after his departure from the campaign, forced by revelations of his activities with a pro-Russian Ukrainian party, Manafort was an informal advisor to the Trump camp for several months.
Paul Manafort, campaign chairman: "came into the campaign very late"
George Papadopoulos, foreign policy adviser: "low-level volunteer"
Steve Bannon, chief strategist: never "particularly close"
So much for loyalty pledges. https://t.co/sgx4fOO53M
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) June 3, 2018