Donald Trump Cannot Pardon Himself and Needs a New Lawyer, Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Says

Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley spoke out against President Donald Trump’s Monday morning tweet in which he claimed that he had the “absolute right to pardon” himself if convicted in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe.

“If I were president of the United States and I had a lawyer that said I could pardon myself, I think I would hire a new lawyer,” Senator Grassley told Manu Raju, CNN's senior Congressional correspondent, on the steps of the Capitol on Monday.

Trump’s tweet appeared to follow the logic of a string of arguments made this weekend by his personal lawyer and former New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani. On Sunday, Giuliani told ABC that Trump likely did have the legal right to pardon himself but that he would never use it. He also told The Huffington Post that "in no case can [Trump] be subpoenaed or indicted," even if he shot former FBI director James Comey. Instead, Giuliani said, Trump would have to be impeached.

To some, Grassley’s actions are a bold act of defiance against Trump. Grassley’s home state of Iowa strongly supported Trump in the election and the Senator overwhelmingly votes in line with the president.

But to others, the statements are a clever political play to avoid any concrete action on Trump’s comments. The Senator won’t hold oversight hearings because of these tweets, wrote Eric Shultz, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, because “giving a zinger to CNN gets him just as much play and he doesn't have to actually do anything.”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s press secretary, later clarified the comments. After being asked three times, she told reporters that "certainly, no one is above the law."

The president shot out a series of Tweets on Monday morning saying that, “As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong? In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!” Later in the afternoon, he returned to the topic, tweeting that, “The Fake News Media is desperate to distract from the economy and record setting economic numbers and so they keep talking about the phony Russian Witch Hunt.”

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