Members of President Trump’s presidential campaign — including son Donald Jr. and adviser Jared Kushner — are set to talk this week before the Senate about Russia’s involvement in the 2016 White House race.
Their scheduled meetings is the last development in numerous investigations into the extent to which Russian officials meddled in last year’s race an whether Trump associates colluded with them.
And as investigations continue, Trump on Saturday added to the speculation that he’ll try to end them or protect himself and associates by stating that he has “complete power” to issue pardons.
“While all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us. FAKE NEWS,” the president tweeted Saturday morning.
The comment follows a recent Washington Post story stating Trump has inquired about the authority he has as president to pardon aides in connection with the investigations — including several on Capitol Hill and separate ones by the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump maintains that no crimes have been committed and has urged authorities to prosecute those who have leaked information about the probes.
On Sunday, new White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci acknowledged that Trump indeed “brought (pardons) up” in the Oval Office but said the president doesn’t need to pardon himself.
“And the reason doesn’t need to pardon himself is that he hasn’t done anything wrong,” Scaramucci told “Fox News Sunday.”
On Saturday night, Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s attorneys, said the president has not discussed the issue of pardons with his outside legal team.
Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son; Kushner, Trump son-in-law and a White House adviser; and former Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort are scheduled to appear before Senate committees investigating Russian meddling.
Kushner is set to speak Monday to the Senate Intelligence committee in an expected closed-door meeting.
Trump Jr. became a focus of the investigations after it was revealed that he, Kushner and Manafort met with Russian representatives at Trump Tower in June 2016.
He later released email exchanges concerning the meeting on Twitter, after learning that The New York Times was about to publish them.
Trump defended his son in another tweet Saturday, saying he “openly gave his e-mails to the media & authorities whereas Crooked Hillary Clinton deleted (& acid washed) her 33,000 e-mails!”
This week has the potential to deliver the most high-profile congressional testimony involving the Russian meddling probes since former FBI Director James Comey appeared in June.
Trump Jr. is scheduled to appear Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee along with Manafort, according to a witness list released by the panel.
The three men will almost certainly be asked about their attendance at a June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer. That gathering was arranged via emails that advertised it would reveal damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, said last week that she was ready to testify before the Senate and “clarify the situation.”
Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence panel, has said Veselnitskaya has yet to be invited to testify but that he wants to hear from her.
Warner said “it’s still being worked out” whether some of his committee’s more high-profile witnesses, including Trump Jr. and Manafort, should testify publicly or privately.
The Senate and House intelligence panels conduct most of their interviews in private, but occasionally hold open hearings.
Warner said Trump Jr. has “no security clearances that I am aware of, so he should be able to testify in public.”
Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary panel, said last week that he’s been talking to Trump Jr.’s lawyer and “didn’t get any pushback” when suggesting he testify this week.
Grassley had said he would subpoena the witnesses if necessary.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.