Trump, in angry Twitter spree, declares ‘the complete power to pardon’

The president at a
The president at a “Made in America” event in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)

President Trump went on a Twitter tirade Saturday morning, lashing out at multiple targets, including Obamacare, Hillary Clinton, two newspapers, his own administration and the investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

Notably, he announced that “all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon.”

The Washington Post reported Friday that, according to a source, Trump has asked his team about “his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself” in connection with the Russia inquiry. Another source told the Post that “Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.”

Constitutional lawyer Laurence Tribe and two former White House ethics lawyers contended Friday that presidents can’t pardon themselves.

Trump’s Saturday Twitter flurry began with an attack against the Post. The paper reported the day before that, according to intelligence intercepts, Attorney General Jeff Sessions discussed campaign issues with Russia’s ambassador. Sessions has repeatedly denied having such discussions with Russian officials.

“A new INTELLIGENCE LEAK from the Amazon Washington Post,this time against A.G. Jeff Sessions,” Trump tweeted. “These illegal leaks, like Comey’s, must stop!” (“Amazon” refers to the Post’s owner, Jeff Bezos, who founded the online retail giant.)

The commander in chief’s Twitter feed quickly moved on to attack the New York Times.

“The Failing New York Times foiled U.S. attempt to kill the single most wanted terrorist,Al-Baghdadi.Their sick agenda over National Security,” wrote Trump, who earlier this week granted the Times a wide-ranging interview.

President Trump leaves the White House on Saturday morning
President Trump leaves the White House on Saturday morning. (Photo: Zach Gibson/Reuters)

His tweet was apparently referring to a Fox News report on Gen. Tony Thomas’ comments the day before at the Aspen Security Forum. Fox reported that Thomas, who heads the Special Operations Command, said the U.S. military had a “very good lead” in 2015 on Islamic State terror group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

“Unfortunately, it was leaked in a prominent national newspaper about a week later and that lead went dead,” Thomas recalled, according to the report.

Those comments seemed to refer to a summer 2015 Times story, in which the paper reported that the U.S. gleaned a trove of information about ISIS from a Delta Force commando raid.

“The Pentagon raised no objections with the Times before publishing the story in 2015 and no senior American official ever complained publicly about it until now,” a Times spokesperson told Yahoo News on Saturday, adding that the paper has asked the White House “to clarify the tweet.”

President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence greet military personnel at the Pentagon
President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence greet military personnel at the Pentagon. (Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Trump’s Saturday Twitter tirade moved on to Clinton, his 2016 foe.

“So many people are asking why isn’t the A.G. or Special Council [sic] looking at the many Hillary Clinton or Comey crimes. 33,000 e-mails deleted?” the commander in chief asked. “What about all of the Clinton ties to Russia, including Podesta Company, Uranium deal, Russian Reset, big dollar speeches etc.”

The social media outburst is striking for including a public shot against Sessions, a longtime Trump loyalist, though the president undermined him in a recent Times interview. In that interview, Trump said he wouldn’t have appointed Sessions to his Cabinet if he knew the Alabama lawmaker would recuse himself from the Russia probe.

Sessions recused himself in March after the Post revealed that he met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign. In his confirmation hearings, Sessions had insisted he had no such contacts. Since then, he has maintained that he never met with “Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign.” The Post’s Friday report suggested that also was not true.

Trump has repeatedly complained about the Russia probe, which is now overseen by the Justice Department’s special counsel, Robert Mueller, who was named to the investigation after Trump fired James Comey as FBI director. (Trump has misspelled “counsel” in two prior tweets as well.)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The president has also repeatedly attempted to deflect the spotlight of the Russia investigation back onto Clinton and her campaign, though Clinton was defeated over seven months ago.

Continuing the effort, Trump exclaimed Saturday, “My son Donald openly gave his e-mails to the media & authorities whereas Crooked Hillary Clinton deleted (& acid washed) her 33,000 e-mails!”

Donald Trump Jr. earlier this month disclosed emails arranging a 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer and others to obtain dirt on the Clinton campaign. Despite the president’s claim, the disclosure came only when the Times was about to publish a story about the emails. And Trump Jr. has repeatedly shifted his story about that meeting.

On Saturday, Trump also attacked Democrats and Obamacare, urging Republicans to repeal the law. He further defended his new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, for disparaging him during the campaign.

View Trump’s full Saturday-morning tweets in chronological order below.

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