Giuliani says Mueller's team is trying to frame Trump

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"I disagree with Giuliani and I don't believe the law favors the position he is articulating", Zeldin said.

Trump's lawyers sent the letter as part of a broader argument that the President should not have to sit down with the special counsel. That's because, as the country's chief law enforcement officer, Trump himself has ultimate control of the Justice Department and executive branch.

Many legal scholars dispute the idea that a President can not obstruct justice.

The legal maneuvering comes as Trump tries repeatedly to undercut the investigation.

Trump later added that the "appointment of the Special Councel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!".

"I would have quickly picked someone else" to lead the Justice Department, Trump tweeted of Sessions, who recused himself from the probe previous year following reports of his meeting with the Russian ambassador. "He's obviously not going to give up any of his pardon powers, or any future president's pardon powers, but under these circumstances he's not going to do that".

"There's a reason they're untested". They argue that the President could not possibly have committed obstruction in the Russian Federation investigation because the Constitution empowers him to "terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired". "The president's game here in part is to take issues that are so beyond the pale that they have never been tested and say, 'Look, there's no authority here on point'".

President Donald Trump asserted his presidential power and escalated his efforts to discredit the special counsel Russian Federation probe Monday, declaring he has the "absolute right" to pardon himself and attacking the investigation as "totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!"

Though Trump insists he did nothing wrong, the statements from him and his lawyers have made clear that much of their defense revolves around establishing that he was constitutionally empowered to take the actions he took. While Trump did have the authority to fire former FBI Director James Comey, the question becomes whether he had corrupt intent in doing so - the issue at the center of Mueller's obstruction investigation.

That memo, first reported by the New York Times, also asserted that a president has full power over Justice Department investigations and therefore can not be charged with obstruction of justice. Overall, 19 people have been charged in the investigation, including Trump's former campaign chair and national security adviser. "I think Jay was wrong, I mean, this is - this is the reason you don't let the president testify". The power is, as Trump says, "absolute" in that pardons can't be overturned by Congress or the courts.

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"It's a great slogan, but the law doesn't treat the president equal in all respects", Blackman said.

President Andrew Johnson, for example, granted blanket pardons to soldiers who fought in the Confederate Army as a practical way of reuniting the nation following the Civil War.

There's some historical precedent for a court clash that could be instigated by the Trump investigation, but in many ways the arguments remain unsettled.

A court battle is likely if Trump's team argues that the president can't be forced to answer questions or be charged with obstruction of justice. The agreement headed off a potential challenge to the subpoena on constitutional grounds. Under the US system of checks and balances, Congress can hold presidents accountable by ousting them using impeachment trials.

Nonetheless, Giuliani said he remains in touch with Mueller, and that there have been discussions about allowing investigators to question the president.

If Trump does not consent to an interview, Mueller will have to decide whether to go forward with a historic grand jury subpoena. Such a move could theoretically end in a court defeat for Mueller, and would nearly certainly prolong the investigation.

The bottom line is that Trump retains his pardoning powers up until a possible impeachment.

On his own, he has recently pardoned conservative Barack Obama critic Dinesh D'Souza, who had pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud, and former Bush administration White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

According to Zeldin, the Office of Legal Counsel opinion advising the Justice Department on federal prosecution policy "would not bind state prosecutors from proceeding".

Former US attorney Preet Bharara said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that it "would be outrageous" for a sitting president to pardon himself. "His lawyers are very, very suspicious", he said.