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Going "Full Dictator"? Trump Claims He Has Right to End Mueller Investigation or Pardon Himself

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Justice Under Attack
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As President Trump celebrated his 500th day in office Monday, many legal experts warned that the country could soon face a constitutional crisis as the president continues to attack special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. On Monday, Trump tweeted, "The appointment of the Special Counsel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!" He also tweeted, "As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself."

Over the weekend, The New York Times published a 20-page confidential letter written by Trump's lawyers to special counsel Robert Mueller, in which his lawyers claim Trump is above the law and thus cannot have illegally obstructed the Mueller investigation. Trump's attorneys also claim the Constitution gives the president power to terminate the Mueller probe.

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We speak to Philadelphia Daily News columnist Will Bunch in Philadelphia. His latest column is headlined "The week Trump went full dictator and no one tried to stop him."

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

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JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Monday marked President Trump's 500th day in office, and many legal experts warn the country could soon face a constitutional crisis as the president continues to attack special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. On Monday, Trump tweeted, quote, "The appointment of the Special Counsel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!" He also tweeted, "As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself." Later on Monday, NBC's White House reporter Peter Alexander questioned the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

PETER ALEXANDER: Sarah, let me ask you, if I can: Does the president believe that he is above the law?

PRESS SECRETARY SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: Certainly not. The president hasn't done anything wrong.

PETER ALEXANDER: The question isn't if he's done anything wrong. I guess the question is: Does the president believe the Framers envisioned a system where the president can pardon himself, where the president could be above the law?

PRESS SECRETARY SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: Certainly, the Constitution very clearly lays out the law. And, once again, the president hasn't done anything wrong, and we feel very comfortable in that front.

PETER ALEXANDER: I know, but you just, a moment ago, said it's not -- it's not that clear. So, I guess, simply put: Does the president believe he is above the law?

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PRESS SECRETARY SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: Certainly, no one is above the law.

AMY GOODMAN: Over the weekend, The New York Times published a 20-page confidential letter written by Trump's lawyers to special counsel Robert Mueller, in which his lawyers claim Trump is above the law and thus cannot have illegally obstructed the Mueller investigation. In the January 29 letter, they claim, quote, "It remains our position that the President's actions here, by virtue of his position as the chief law enforcement officer, could neither constitutionally nor legally constitute obstruction because that would amount to him obstructing himself, and that he could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired." Trump's attorneys also claim the Constitution gives the president power to terminate the Mueller probe.

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