THE BIG IDEA: “When the president does it, that means it is not illegal,” Richard Nixon said during a televised interview in 1977. But Nixon understood that he could never pardon himself. President Trump may not.
Four of my best-sourced colleagues reported last night: “Some of President Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort. Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves. Trump’s legal team declined to comment on the issue. But one adviser said the president has simply expressed a curiosity in understanding the reach of his pardoning authority…”
“Trump has been fuming about the probe in recent weeks as he has been informed about the legal questions that he and his family could face,” write Carol D. Leonnig, Ashley Parker, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger. “His primary frustration centers on why allegations that his campaign coordinated with Russia should spread into scrutinizing many years of Trump dealmaking. He has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns. … All presidents since Jimmy Carter have released their tax returns. …
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