Friday afternoon, the dust had barely settled from the abrupt departure of Sean Spicer from the Trump administration. His replacement was having her first Q&A with reporters in her new job. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been handling White House press conferences lately, but most have been off-camera and shielded from the outside world.
As if to test her in her role as the official face of the Trump White House, a reporter started in with what had to be the biggest question on everyone’s minds. After quickly congratulating her on the new job, he asked:
Can you clarify where the president stands on the issue of pardons? Is he considering pardons for figures in the Russia investigation, and does the president believe that he has the power to pardon himself?”
Without missing a beat, Sanders proved herself up to the title of “Shady 2.0” with a familiar phrase:
Uh, look, I’d refer you to the…”
There you have it, folks. Has anyone seen Spicer and Sanders in the same room yet since the big news? She went on:
…uh, the comments that have already been made by the outside counsel. Uh, in terms of their actions, the president maintains pardon powers like any president would. But there are no announcements or planned announcements on that front whatsoever.”
Then the exchange again:
Press: Does he believe he has the power to pardon himself?
Sanders: Like I said, uh, I don’t have anything to add beyond what the outside counsel’s already stated on that front.”
So that’s a big, Spicer-style deflection on whether or not Donald Trump thinks he can give himself a pardon. The hoops he would have to jump through would be unprecedented, as no president has ever granted himself a pardon. More importantly, it wouldn’t likely change much. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, said that a “textual reading of Article II would support a president asserting the right to pardon himself.” But, he added:
It is also important to keep in mind that such a pardon would not protect against either an impeachment or state charges. It would also not stop the investigation.”
As my mother would say, it looks like Trump can wish in one hand and spit in the other, rub them together and see what he gets the most of.
Watch the exchange here:
Featured image via Alex Wong/Getty Images