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Sessions confirms Trump could pardon allies and family members involved in Russia probe

 (EPA / Shutterstock)
(EPA / Shutterstock)

Democrats asking questions of Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions during the House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday often used their five minutes of time to raise the specter of President Trump interfering in the special counsel's investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida repeatedly asked Sessions whether Trump had the power to pardon any of those allegedly involved in Russia's meddling in the election. He cited as possible beneficiaries both former aides and family members, including Donald Trump Jr.

After repeatedly saying he "was not able to express an opinion," Sessions eventually said that Trump did have the option of pardoning.

"I believe the president has the power to pardon, no doubt about that," he said."I think it's maybe settled law."

Democrats have often used the matter of pardons to raise a comparison with the Watergate scandalĀ and to suggest that the president is willing to operate outside the norms of political behavior.

"We should be worried if you are telling us the president should be able to pardon in advance all of those being investigated," Deutch said.

"The attorney general should not be giving legal opinions from the seat of his britches," Sessions replied.

Deutch opened his questioning with a statement that it was "reasonable to conclude" that Trump had obstructed justice by firing FBI director James B. Comey.

"I don't believe that's a fair conclusion," Sessions said, but added that judgment belonged to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

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