White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders listens to a question during the daily press briefing at the White House, Monday, June 4, 2018, in Washington. Sanders discussed, Trump's pardon powers, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, and other topics. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The Latest: Giuliani says statement on meeting was a mistake

June 04, 2018 - 8:59 pm
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on whether President Donald Trump could pardon himself in the Russia probe (all times local):

10 p.m.

President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani says Trump's legal team and press secretary simply "got it wrong" when they said the president had nothing to do with drafting a statement for his son about a meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 presidential election.

Giuliani said during an appearance on CNN that "it was a mistake" and rejected the idea that it was a lie. He adds: "I have no idea how they got it wrong, but they got it wrong."

A January letter from Trump's lawyers to the special counsel investigating Russian meddling says Trump "dictated a short but accurate response" about the meeting.

That directly contradicted White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders. She said in August that Trump "certainly didn't dictate" the letter. Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said in July that "the president was not, did not, draft the response."

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3:20 p.m.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders is responding to questions about the president's assessment of his own powers, telling reporters, "Certainly no one is above the law."

President Donald Trump had tweeted earlier that he has the "absolute right to PARDON" himself.

Sanders says, "Thankfully the president hasn't done anything wrong and therefore wouldn't need one."

She's also defending Trump's assertion that the special counsel investigation into Russian election meddling is "totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL" — even though it is overseen by his administration's Justice Department.

Sanders is also refusing to explain a contradiction between her public statements and a memo from the president's outside counsel obtained by The New York Times. Sanders says Trump "certainly didn't dictate" a statement from his eldest son about a campaign-period meeting with a Russian lawyer.

Trump's lawyers said he did.

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2:40 p.m.

A California man who pleaded guilty in the special counsel's Russia investigation should have a sentencing date set by the end of this month.

Prosecutors for special counsel Robert Mueller told a federal judge Monday that they will be ready in the next few weeks to set such a date for Richard Pinedo, who admitted in February to selling bank account information to Russians.

The move by prosecutors is another sign that part of the Mueller investigation may be wrapping up.

In recent weeks, Mueller's team also started the process of sentencing George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign aide who pleaded guilty last year to lying to investigators. Papadopoulos is a key cooperator in the investigation of Russian election interference and any possible coordination with Trump associates.

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9:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump is calling the special counsel Russia probe "totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!"

Trump tweets on Monday: "The appointment of the Special Councel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Despite that, we play the game because I, unlike the Democrats, have done nothing wrong!"

Trump's team has sought to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling into the 2016 election.

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani recently said the probe may need to be curtailed because, in his estimation, it was based on inappropriately obtained information from an informant and former FBI Director James Comey's memos.

The FBI began a counterintelligence investigation in July 2016 to determine whether Trump campaign associates coordinated with Russia to tip the election. The investigation was opened after the emails were hacked from Democratic officials' accounts and published; intelligence officials later formally attributed the breach to Russia.

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8:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he has "absolute right to PARDON myself" but says has "done nothing wrong" in the Russia probe.

In a tweet Monday, Trump weighed in on the question of whether he could pardon himself should the special counsel find he interfered in the investigation into Russia meddling in the 2016 election.

Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, in television interviews Sunday, suggested Trump might have that authority to pardon himself but would be unwise to use it.

Giuliani told NBC's "Meet the Press": "Pardoning himself would be unthinkable and probably lead to immediate impeachment."

Trump, in his tweet, declared: "As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?"

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12: 45 a.m.

Can a president pardon himself? An attorney for President Donald Trump is playing down the possibility that Trump would try to — if it came to that.

Rudy Giuliani says Trump might have that authority but exercising it would be "unthinkable." Besides, Giuliani, adds, Trump has done nothing wrong and has no need to consider pardoning himself.

Giuliani's comments come as the White House sharpens its legal and political defenses against the special counsel Russia probe.

He made it clear Trump's legal team would combat any effort to force the president to testify in front of a grand jury.

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