Can Trump pardon himself? - ABDULLAH MURADOĞLU

Can Trump pardon himself?

U.S. President Donald Trump is, on the one hand, confronting his European allies for discussions on customs tariffs during the summit of the "G7", a group consisting of seven major capitalist member states with the largest and advanced economies in the world, and on the other is preparing to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12. Meanwhile, the "Russia Investigation," conducted by the FBI's former President Robert Mueller, who was appointed as Special Counsel since May 2017, gets more interesting by the day.

In fact, both sides (Democrats and Republicans) in the "American Congress" are in agreement on the fact that Russia interfered with the presidential elections in 2016. The controversy has more of a focus on whether Russian intervention took place within the framework of a secret deal with Trump or not. Needless to say that Trump and his inner circle do not accept such a claim as a secret deal with the Russians. According to Trump's supporters, this investigation is an undermining conspiracy of the American deep state. On every possible occasion, Trump repeatedly utters this assertion.

Since elections will be held in autumn, the Republicans argue that the "Russia Investigation" must be concluded as soon as possible. Trump supporters want both Mueller and also Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who authorized Special Counsel Robert Mueller to investigate the issue, to be dismissed. In the "Russia Investigation," dozens of figures in Trump's campaign team are under strong suspicion. News leaked on media indicates that investigations have expanded toward Trump.

Recently, the hot topic about the investigation in Washington is whether or not Trump has the authority to "issue a preemptive pardon for himself." Trump's private lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said that Trump had the authority to pardon himself, but that he did not think that he would do it. Trump also says in a tweet, "I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?" he said. This is a unique case since no U.S. president has ever pardoned himself until now. The general consensus among American jurists is that the president does not have the authority to pardon himself. The majority of lawyers are of the opinion that it woud not be enough to stop the investigation if Trump goes for a self-pardon.

Actually, the fact that Trump and his lawyer bring forward the issue of "self-pardon" indicates what might possibly happen if Mueller's Russia investigation transforms to a directly accusatory form against Trump. Trump, on the other hand, implies that he may use his authority to pardon some figures close to him if they are found guilty within the scope of the "Russia investigation." As a matter of fact, it can even be considered as a message to Mueller and his team that Trump has recently stated that about 3,000 people, including the deceased boxer Muhammad Ali, who were formerly convicted, could also be pardoned.

According to experts who analyze Trump's language, the U.S. president intends to say, "I will do it" even when he says "why should I?" Trump had frequently claimed, "We have very good relations and reports regarding a dismissal are false," even if he was at loggerheads with many figures in his cabinet including Director of the National Economy Council Gary Cohn, National Security Adviser General McMaster, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The press turned out to be right in all matters.

Kelly Sadler from Trump's communication team is the most recent example. Sadler saying, "It does not matter, he's dying anyway" about Senator John McCain, who is being treated for cancer and who opposed the appointment of Gina Haspel to the head of the CIA, was leaked to the press. Trump said that he did not intend to fire Sadler because of the abovementioned remark that led to public reactions. A few days later, it was reported that Sadler was discharged from her position at the White House. Speaking of staff resignations, the Deputy Director of the National Economic Council Shahira Knight, is also leaving the White House. Knight, an influential lobbyist and known for her close relations with former director Gary Cohn, played a crucial role in Trump's so-called tax reform.


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