U.S. President Donald Trump has declared that he has “complete power to pardon,” as his administration undergoes investigations into possible ties between his 2016 Presidential campaign and Russia.
In a series of early morning Twitter messages, Trump aired renewed frustration with his attorney general, the special counsel leading the Russia probe, and Republicans in Congress who are struggling to advance his legislative agenda.
But Trump’s comment about pardons, as well as an attack on the media, raised the possibility that he was considering his options if the investigations do not go his way.
Trump did not specify who, if anyone, he might consider pardoning. His tweets appeared to be written in response to a report by The Washington Post this week that Trump and his legal team have examined presidential powers to pardon Trump aides, family members and possibly even himself.
The Washington Post, citing current and former U.S. officials, reported on Friday that Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, who ended his tenure on Saturday, was overheard by U.S. spy agencies telling his bosses that he had discussed campaign-related matters with Trump adviser Jeff Sessions last year, when Sessions was a U.S. senator.
Sessions now leads the Justice Department as Trump’s attorney general.
Mr Sessions claimed that he had not met with Russians and later recused himself from the Russia probe.
Following the tweet about his power to pardon, the President embarked on a familiar tirade about Hillary Clinton emails and the sacked FBI director James Comey.
He questioned why Sessions and special counsel Robert Mueller were not investigating Comey or Clinton, for her email practices as secretary of state.
Mr Trump compared this with the fact his son, Donald Jr “openly gave his e-mails to the media and authorities”.
Trump Jr. and Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort have agreed to negotiate whether to be interviewed by the investigating panel.
Trump Jr., Manafort and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and now one of his senior advisers, all met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016.
That meeting was held in Trump Tower in New York after the lawyer offered damaging information about Clinton.
Trump himself has not been accused of any wrongdoing by federal investigators who are probing alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.