US President Donald Trump is highlighting his “complete power to pardon” in the ongoing investigations into allegations of his campaign’s collusion with Russia in 2016.
“While all agree the US President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us.FAKE NEWS,” Trump tweeted Saturday.
Since the 2016 campaign, Trump has repeatedly used the term “fake news” largely for any coverage criticizing him or his allies.
The comment followed a Washington Post report on Thursday, which said the president’s lawyers were looking into his authority to grant pardons in the probes into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election and his associates’ possible collusion with the Kremlin.
An investigation has been launched to find out whether the Russian government coordinated with Trump’s associates during the 2016 campaign and transition, the intelligence community’s conclusion that Moscow helped with the New York billionaire’s campaign effort ahead of winning the White House, an allegation dismissed both by Moscow.
Trump has himself spoken with his advisers about the power to pardon aides, family members and even himself, according to the report.
“This is not in the context of, ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself,’ ” said a close adviser.
John Dowd, an attorney of Trump’s, said later that the story was “not true” but “nonsense,” asserting that the president’s lawyers were “cooperating” with special counsel Robert Swan Mueller III “on behalf of the president.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also stated that, “The president maintains pardon powers like any president would… there are no announcements” about pardons at this time.
‘No time for US-Russia cyber unit’
The investigation, meanwhile, is apparently lhampering talks to create a joint cyber security working group between the two countries, as announced by a Russian presidential envoy this week.
Admiral Mike Rogers, the US National Security Agency, shattered prospects of a US-Russia cyber unit on Saturday, arguing this is “not the best time.”
“I’m not a policy guy here. …. I would argue now is probably not the best time to be doing this,” Rogers told the annual Aspen Security Forum.
The Trump administration is also under pressure over recent revelations about a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya, with the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, also present at Trump Tower in the summer of 2016.
The fact that Trump is speaking of pardoning at this stage as investigations are still underway is “extremely disturbing,” according to Democratic Senator Mark Warner.
“Pardoning any individuals who may have been involved would be crossing a fundamental line,” said the Virginia lawmaker.
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