Donald Trump Says He Can Pardon Whomever He Wants (While Claiming He Did Nothing Wrong)

President Donald Trump is pictured in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., July 21, 2017. Carlos Barria/Reuters

Donald Trump took to Twitter Saturday morning to defend his right as president to pardon anyone and everyone. But he was also sure to point out, of course, that he did nothing wrong.

"While all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us.FAKE NEWS," Trump tweeted around 8 a.m. eastern time Saturday morning.

This tweet is an apparent response to a Washington Post report Friday that noted Trump was looking into his pardoning powers amid an investigation being led by special counsel Robert Mueller that's looking into his administration's connections to Russia. "Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe," the Post reported, citing an unnamed person close to Trump.

Trump could certainly attempt to pardon himself, but it's a little unclear what happens after that. Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, wrote in a separate Washington Post piece that any pardon Trump might dole out to his aides (or himself) "probably would be constitutional but ultimately self-defeating" because it would likely shift the controversy from a criminal investigation to impeachment proceedings.

Politico similarly pointed out that while Trump issuing a self-pardon might be considered illegal by many scholars because it violates the rule of law, the battle would probably end up being played out in the political realm rather than a court. "The Constitution doesn't specify whether the president can pardon himself, and no court has ever ruled on the issue, because no president has ever been brazen enough to try it," Politico wrote.

There's no real precedent to cite, but the closest example might be President Gerald Ford pardoning his disgraced colleague, former President Richard Nixon after he resigned amid the Watergate scandal. It proved to be a political nightmare for Ford: his approval rating immediately tanked and his presidency never recovered. So while Trump defended his right to pardon anyone he wants, it might not be a smart move.