Trump as­serts ‘com­plete power’ for par­don

Pres­i­dent has urged author­i­ties to pros­e­cute leak­ers

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said Satur­day that he has “com­plete power” to is­sue par­dons, an as­ser­tion that comes amid in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in last year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. It was one of many topics that ap­peared to oc­cupy the pres­i­dent’s mind as the day broke.

On a day when most peo­ple are ready to for­get about the is­sues that nagged them dur­ing the week, Trump revved up. In an early morn­ing flurry of 10 tweets, he com­mented about par­dons, for­mer pres­i­den­tial ri­val Hil­lary Clin­ton, son Don Jr, health care, the USS Ger­ald Ford, the at­tor­ney gen­eral and other is­sues. Trump said in one of his 10 mes­sages: “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.” The Wash­ing­ton Post re­cently re­ported that Trump has in­quired about the au­thor­ity he has as pres­i­dent to par­don aides, rel­a­tives or even him­self in con­nec­tion with the widen­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the elec­tion and whether any Trump as­so­ciates were in­volved. The pres­i­dent has long crit­i­cized leaks of in­for­ma­tion about the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and has urged author­i­ties to pros­e­cute leak­ers. Trump main­tains that no crimes have been com­mit­ted.

One of Trump’s at­tor­neys, Jay Seku­low, said the pres­i­dent has not dis­cussed the is­sue of par­dons with his out­side le­gal team. Seku­low re­it­er­ated that point Satur­day even­ing. Speak­ing to re­porters at the site of the West­ern Con­ser­va­tive Sum­mit in Den­ver, he said that Trump’s pri­vate le­gal team is “not re­search­ing it be­cause it’s not an is­sue.” “I don’t know where this came from. There is noth­ing to par­don,” said Seku­low, who added that “what’s go­ing on in Wash­ing­ton is an at­tack on the pres­i­dent.”

Next week, Trump’s el­dest son, Don­ald Trump Jr.; his son-in-law and White House ad­viser, Jared Kush­ner; and Paul Manafort, his for­mer cam­paign chair­man, are sched­uled to ap­pear be­fore Se­nate com­mit­tees in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sian med­dling.

Trump de­fended his son in one of the tweets, say­ing he “openly gave his e-mails to the me­dia & author­i­ties whereas Crooked Hil­lary Clin­ton deleted (& acid washed) her 33,000 e-mails!” Trump’s name­sake has be­come a fo­cus of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter it was re­vealed that he, Kush­ner and Manafort met with Rus­sian rep­re­sen­ta­tives at Trump Tower in June 2016. Trump Jr. later re­leased email ex­changes con­cern­ing the meet­ing on Twit­ter, af­ter learn­ing that The New York Times was about to pub­lish them.

The FBI in­ves­ti­gated Clin­ton for us­ing a pri­vate email server as sec­re­tary of state. She turned over thou­sands of pages of emails to the gov­ern­ment, but deleted thou­sands of oth­ers that she said were per­sonal or un­re­lated to her work as the na­tion’s top diplo­mat.

Trump also com­plained Satur­day about a Wash­ing­ton Post re­port that the Rus­sian am­bas­sador to the US said he dis­cussed elec­tion-re­lated is­sues with Jeff Ses­sions when the men met dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial race. Ses­sions, now the at­tor­ney gen­eral, at the time was a U.S. se­na­tor and for­eign pol­icy ad­viser to Trump. Trump tweeted: “A new IN­TEL­LI­GENCE LEAK from the Ama­zon Wash­ing­ton Post,this time against AG Jeff Ses­sions.These il­le­gal leaks, like Comey’s, must stop!”

The Post on Fri­day cited anony­mous US of­fi­cials who de­scribed US in­tel­li­gence in­ter­cepts of Am­bas­sador Sergey Kislyak’s de­scrip­tions of his meet­ings with Ses­sions. The Jus­tice Depart­ment said Ses­sions stands by his pre­vi­ous as­ser­tion that he never had con­ver­sa­tions with Rus­sian of­fi­cials about any type of in­ter­fer­ence with the elec­tion.

Trump also said “Repub­li­can Se­na­tors must step up to the plate and, af­ter 7 years, vote to Re­peal and Re­place” the Obama-era health care law. An ef­fort to ad­vance leg­is­la­tion col­lapsed in the Se­nate ear­lier this week af­ter sev­eral Repub­li­cans said they wouldn’t vote for the bill. Trump ended the tweet with “Tax Re­form and In­fra­struc­ture. WIN!”

— AP

VER­MONT: Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump speaks dur­ing the com­mis­sion­ing cer­e­mony of the air­craft car­rier USS Ger­ald R Ford (CVN 78) at Naval Sta­tion Nor­folk.

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