Democrats See Trump’s Pardon Ploy as “Extremely Disturbing”

The Washington Post says Donald Trump has been consulting with advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself
Democrats See Trump’s Pardon Ploy as “Extremely Disturbing” Democrats See Trump’s Pardon Ploy as “Extremely Disturbing”

The highest-ranking Democrat on the US Senate intelligence committee said it was "extremely disturbing" if President Donald Trump was contemplating a pardon for aides that could be implicated in a probe on Russian meddling in last year's presidential election.

Senator Mark Warner was referring to a Washington Post article late Thursday saying that Trump was consulting with advisers "about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself" in connection to the probe led by special counsel and former FBI director Robert Mueller, AFP reported.

Trump's lawyers were attempting to "corral the probe" and were compiling a list of Mueller's alleged potential conflicts of interest in order to "stymie his work," according to the Post, which quoted anonymous sources for the article.

In a statement, Warner said that Russia's interference in the 2016 elections "was an attack on our democracy. Both the Senate Intelligence Committee and special  counsel Mueller are currently investigating whether any coordination occurred between Russia and individuals associated with the Trump campaign."

"The possibility that the president is considering pardons at this early stage in these ongoing investigations is extremely disturbing," said Warner, the senior senator from Virginia and vice-chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence.

"Pardoning any individuals who may have been involved would be crossing a fundamental line."

The White House has yet to comment on the Post report.

However in an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, Trump warned Mueller that some of his family finances should be off-limits to the ex-FBI director's wide-ranging investigation.

***Complete Power to Pardon

In a defiance act, Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to complain about the special counsel investigating possible ties between his 2016 campaign and Russia while insisting that he, as president, has "complete power to pardon."

Trump, who defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in last year's presidential election, questioned why his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and special counsel Robert Mueller were not investigating former FBI Director James Comey or Clinton, for her email practices as secretary of state.

The FBI decided last year not to recommend criminal charges against Clinton for her email practices. Trump fired Comey in May.

Sessions had been Trump's first supporter in the senate before being named attorney general, but recently has become a lightning rod for Trump's anger over the probe into allegations of Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Sessions recused himself from the probe in March after having failed to disclose at his confirmation hearing that he had held meetings last year with Russia's ambassador.

The US Senate Judiciary Committee said on Friday that Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort had agreed to negotiate whether to be interviewed by the panel in its Russia investigation.

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Trump had inquired about his authority to issue pardons to aides, family members and perhaps himself as Mueller's Russia probe widens.

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