President Trump lashed out at the media in a Saturday morning tweetstorm, insisting his authority to issue pardons is “complete” and expressing frustration over stories that revealed Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have lied about his contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.
“A new INTELLIGENCE LEAK from the Amazon Washington Post, this time against A.G. Jeff Sessions. These illegal leaks, like Comey’s, must stop!” the president tweeted, following up by stating that “While all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us. FAKE NEWS.”
The tacit acknowledgement the president has been thinking about his pardon power in relation to the Russia investigation, and the qualification that no crimes but leaks had been revealed “so far” raised eyebrows among media observers.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating possible collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and what American intelligence agencies have said was a Russian effort to help Trump win the White House. In recent days, reports have suggested the president is concerned that inquiry could reach associates, family members, and even himself, and as a result has begun looking into whether he could issue prospective pardons—including whether he could grant himself one.