Law & the Courts

Trump Says Mueller Appointment Was Unconstitutional, Claims He Can Pardon Himself

Robert Mueller on Capitol Hill in 2006 (Jason Reed/Reuters)

President Trump employed a novel tactic in attacking special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election Monday, calling the very appointment of a special counsel “totally unconstitutional.”

In an earlier tweet, Trump claimed the authority to pardon himself should he be indicted.

Trump’s brash assertion of presidential authority comes one day after his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said that he “could have shot” former FBI director James Comey — rather than firing him — and could not be prosecuted for the murder while in office.

“In no case can he be subpoenaed or indicted,” Giuliani told HuffPost Sunday. “I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is.”

Since joining Trump’s legal team, Giuliani has aggressively defended an extremely broad interpretation of executive power, repeatedly insisting that Trump — regardless of the circumstances surrounding his firing of Comey — could not possibly have obstructed justice because of his position as the chief executive.

That expansive interpretation of Trump’s authority was articulated in a 20-page letter sent to the special counsel by former White House attorneys Jay Sekulow and John Dowd, who was later replaced by Giuliani.

“He could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired,” read the letter, which was obtained by the New York Times.

The letter also revealed that Trump “dictated” the public statement released by his son, Donald Trump Jr., after news emerged of his meeting with a Russian attorney at Trump Tower in June 2016.

That admission contradicted multiple official White House and Trump legal team statements indicating that Trump was not involved in crafting the statement, which came under scrutiny after emails revealed that Trump Jr. attended the meeting to obtain damaging information about then-candidate Hillary Clinton.

Giuliani explained that “our recollection keeps changing,” when confronted about the discrepancy Sunday.

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