Trump Tweeted That He Has the Right To Pardon Himself & We're Wondering If That's True

President Donald Trump shows no sign of changing his Twitter ways 500 days deep into his presidency, this time proclaiming his innocence over the social media platform and alleging that he has the "absolute right to pardon" himself. Early Monday morning Trump tweeted that he has done nothing wrong in the Russia investigation, adding that according to several legal scholars he has the right to pardon himself (even if he did "nothing wrong.")

The Russia investigation is an ongoing investigation in which the FBI is trying to determine whether or not Moscow intervened in the 2016 presidential election, and whether the Trump campaign knew of any election intervention. Congress lawmakers have also been conducting an investigation. 

Trump's tweet has opened up a floodgate of people questioning whether he truly does have the power to pardon himself in a federal investigation, with several politicians chiming in to voice their own opinions in the matter. Democratic senators in particular have been vocal about voicing their bewilderment in response to Trump's tweet.  

Massachusetts senator Ed Markey tweeted evidence that Trump cannot pardon himself, citing a Justice Department office of legal counsel published in 1974 in the midst of Nixon's Watergate scandal stating that the president cannot pardon himself.

Pennsylvania senator Bob Casey pointed out that Mueller's investigation has already indicted 19 people, and that three former Trump aids have already plead guilty, implying that the President may not be as innocent as he claims.

So does Donald Trump have the ability, as president of the United States, to pardon himself in the Russia investigation? In short, yes. According to the Constitution, "[H]e shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment." The language here is intentionally broad and vague, pardoning powers granted to the President by the founding fathers with the intention that it will not be misused.

The idea here is that if the President is truly guilty of treason it will be treated as a case of impeachment, where he will not be able to pardon himself. There's a long history behind this pardoning principle, and it's been used multiple times throughout history.

Meanwhile, Trump claims that the Mueller probe is unconstitutional, and therefore he has the right to pardon himself in the matter, but that he doesn't need to because he isn't guilty of anything. 

A letter sent by Trump's legal team argues that Mueller's charge of obstruction of justice against Trump is invalid because, as the President, he has the option to, under the Constitution, "if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon." This is due to his status as the head of the executive branch of the government.

By and large, it appears that Trump is right. He does have the right to pardon himself at the moment — but the president of the United States pardoning himself in the case of a federal investigation is completely unprecedented. Trump claims that he will not use this pardoning power because he is innocent, and I guess we'll just have to see where the investigation leads going forward.