Former US attorney Preet Bharara said Sunday that it "would be outrageous" for a sitting president to pardon himself, which President Donald Trump's lawyers appear to argue in a letter sent to special counsel Robert Mueller.
"I would think the presidential power, there's nothing that limits the presidential power of pardon from a federal crime, not a state crime", he said.
But he distanced himself from one of the bolder arguments in the letter to Mueller: that a president could not have committed obstruction of justice because he has authority to "if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon".
This question of pardoning has come up over the past few months as special counsel Robert Mueller and his team continue to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 USA election.
The letter states that Trump can not be indicted, subpoenaed or found guilty of obstruction of justice because he is the "chief law enforcement officer".
But a three-page memo from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel that was written in 1974 - days before President Richard Nixon resigned - says the President can not pardon himself because "no one may be a judge in his own case".
The President made the assertion in a furious Twitter spree that criticised Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign over interference in the presidential election.
No president has ever pardoned himself, so its legality is a matter of legal debate.
But one legal expert questioned whether there was actually a consensus that a commander-in-chief can pardon himself.More news: Trump pardoning himself 'unthinkable and would lead to impeachment', says Giuliani
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Trump did not detail his grounds for claiming that the Mueller investigation is illegal.
Constitutional scholars are divided on whether a president can pardon himself.
The 20-page letter from Trump's lawyers to Mueller in January came in response to repeated requests by the special counsel's office asking to interview Trump, according to the Times.
"Certainly the constitution clearly lays out law and once again the president hasn't done anything wrong and we feel very comfortable on that front", she replied.
Sanders says, "Thankfully the president hasn't done anything wrong and therefore wouldn't need one".
"The appointment of the Special [counsel] is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!"
Giuliani said Sunday that a decision about an interview would not be made until after Mr. Trump's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12 in Singapore, and he cast doubt that it would occur at all.
Trump also gushed over his own performance in the first 500 days in the White House in his latest social media outburst.