1. Donald Trump tweet reading (English) "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? In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!"
2. Donald Trump tweet reading (English) "The appointment of the Special Counsel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Despite that, we play the game because I, unlike the Democrats, have done nothing wrong!"
3. SOUNDBITE (English): Eric Tucker, AP Writer:
"So President Donald Trump tweeted this morning that he has the absolute power to pardon himself if he wants to, though he quickly added that he has no intention of doing so because he's done nothing wrong."
Washington - 1 June 2018
4. Trump walking toward camera
5. SOUNDBITE (English): Eric Tucker, AP Writer:
"So what the president is getting at is actually something that has been historically untested, so nobody actually really knows whether it is true or not if the president can pardon himself because there's never been a Supreme Court that's weighed in on the opinion because frankly no president has ever thought to try to pardon himself or been in the position where they were going to do that. So, we're getting into unchartered territory to the extend that we're talking about this is a reasonable possibility. It's never reached the Supreme Court. I would however note that there is a Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel opinion from 1974 that suggests the president cannot act as his or her own judge. And so therefore would mitigate against pardoning himself or herself."
Washington - 1 June 2018
6. Trump walking on White House lawn
7. SOUNDBITE (English): Eric Tucker, AP Writer:
"So what we're seeing from the series of public statements and tweets both from the president and his lawyers are really expansive visions of constitutional presidential authority and power. And so we are realizing that the defense for the president in the Mueller investigation is not so much a factual defense about what I did or didn't do as much as as I am president and therefore I am entitled to carry out the very acts that you're now investigating me for and so if I want to fire the FBI director, I can. If I want to ask the FBI director to shut down a particular investigation. I can. I'm the president. I control the executive branch. And so we are now getting into fairly untested arguments about the scope of the constitutional authorities vested in the president."
Washington - 13 June 2013
8. Robert Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill
9. SOUNDBITE (English): Eric Tucker, AP Writer:
"So a lot's going to depend on whether the president consents to an interview. So if he agrees to an interview, that would sort of seem to suggest there won't be a hugely drawn out court fight. If he rejects the interview request formally and then Mueller chooses to subpoena, him which is not something that we're aware that he's going to do. But should he subpoena him, we will anticipate a very significant court fight, potentially up to the Supreme Court that will really test some of these issues that we're talking about, whether the president can be subpoenaed for his testimony, whether he could be compelled to speak to investigators. These are really significant issues that suggest that a big court fight could be ahead."
Beijing - 13 June 2013
10. Mueller at news conference
11. SOUNDBITE (English): Eric Tucker, AP Writer:
"I guess what's really interesting to me, at least, is how much of this is truly unknown. So you have legal experts and academics on one side of the spectrum who say this can never happen. You have others who say, 'well actually, technically when you look at the Constitution it doesn't preclude the types of behaviors or responses that the president's talking about.' So to the extent that we are moving into areas that we've never been before. I think there's going to be an opportunity to create new law and there's not going to be much to look at that guides us in terms of this is the one true right answer. So it's sort of fascinating in that sense."
President Donald Trump and his lawyers are laying out an extraordinarily expansive vision of executive authority that scholars say is mostly untested in court and could portend a drawn-out fight with the prosecutors now investigating him.
A memo submitted by the president's lawyers to special counsel Robert Mueller asserts as fact that presidents cannot obstruct justice because, as the country's chief law enforcement officer, they have ultimate control of the Justice Department and executive branch.
His lawyers have repeatedly insisted that it's beyond dispute that a sitting president cannot be criminally prosecuted, while Trump tweeted Monday that he has the "absolute right" to pardon himself.
As Mueller's investigation moves forward, courts may have to confront questions with minimal if any historical precedent.
Those include whether a president can be forced to answer questions from prosecutors, whether it's possible for a commander-in-chief to criminally interfere in investigations and whether a president's broad pardon power can be deployed for corrupt purposes.
Mueller is investigating whether Trump associates coordinated with Russia during the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump took steps to shut down that investigation through actions including the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Though Trump insists he did nothing wrong, the statements from him and his lawyers, including the January memo to Mueller, make clear how much of their defense revolves around establishing that he was constitutionally empowered to take the actions he took that are now under investigation.
The defense argument suggests that protocols meant to protect against abuses of power are merely norms the American public has come to expect, rather than laws binding upon a president.
There's some historical precedent for the court clash that could be instigated by the Trump investigation, but in many ways the arguments remain unsettled and tested.
The Supreme Court has never definitively ruled on the question of whether a president could be forced to testify, though the justices in 1974 did rule that President Richard Nixon had to turn over recordings and documents that had been subpoenaed.