Donald Trump considering pardoning himself, reports claim

Donald Trump is reportedly considering pardoning himself as the US Justice Department did not rule out pursuing charges against him over the storming of the US Capitol.

The US president is said to be sounding out advisers about the move and pardons for allies and family members, according to widespread American media reports.

A self-pardon would be deeply controversial and legally dubious. Constitutional lawyers are split over whether Mr Trump has the power to do so, and the move would be likely to be challenged in the courts.

It has been confirmed that a police officer died attempting to fend off the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on Wednesday. It is the fifth confirmed death in the violence.

Mr Trump is under intense political pressure over his call for "strength" in a speech hours before the mayhem. In the speech, he urged tens of thousands of supporters to go to the Capitol and "stop the steal".

Michael Sherwin, the US attorney in Washington DC, pointedly declined to rule out pursuing Mr Trump, who will lose any presidential immunity to prosecution when becoming a private citizen on January 20.

"We are looking at all actors, not only the people who went into the building," Mr Sherwin said of his investigations. Asked specifically about Mr Trump, he repeated: "We’re looking at all actors" and added: "If the evidence fits the elements of a crime, they’re going to be charged."

On Friday night Twitter permanently suspended the president "due to the risk of further incitement of violence".

Mr Trump is facing legal pressure on a number of fronts once he leaves office, including investigations into his tax records. 

The likelihood of him being removed by his cabinet via the 25th Amendment seemed to be diminishing on Friday because Mike Pence, the vice president, reportedly opposes the move.

Democratic congressmen plan to table a single article of impeachment on Monday, accusing the president of “incitement of insurrection”. 

The four-page draft article of impeachment said Mr Trump "willfully made statements that encouraged – and foreseeably resulted in – imminent lawless action at the Capitol."

It added: "Incited by President Trump a mob unlawfully breached the Capitol [and] menaced members of Congress and the Vice President."

Mr Trump was a "threat to national security" and, in addition to being removed, should be disqualified from future office, it said.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representative, repeated her determination to pursue impeachment in a letter to congressional colleagues.

She also said she had spoken to Gen Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about "preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the [nuclear] launch codes".

Democrats are hopeful that they can impeach Mr Trump in the US House of Representatives before the inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20. That would make him the first president in US history to be impeached twice.

However much doubt remains over whether, should that step be taken, a trial to decide whether to remove him would be scheduled in the Senate given the lack of time.

On Friday night the first Republican senator publicly called for Mr Trump’s resignation. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said: "I want him to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage. He only wants to stay there for his ego."

Meanwhile, the president undercut his call for unity, issued in a video late on Thursday in which he promised to leave office peacefully, by announcing that he will not attend Mr Biden’s inauguration.

Mr Biden declined to endorse calls for impeachment on Friday, repeatedly side-stepping the issue when asked and saying it was a matter for Congress. 

The president-elect, who called Mr Trump "one of the most incompetent presidents in the history of the United States of America", also said it was a "good thing" that he would not be attending his inauguration. 

On Friday it was reported that Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, and Hope Hicks, an aide and confidant to the president, were considering resigning. 

Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator who is close to Mr Trump, was booed and jeered by travellers at Washington DC’s Reagan Airport as he prepared to fly out of the capital.

Some more video of Lindsey Graham being called a “traitor” by Trump supporters at the Reagan airport while surrounded by security.

pic.twitter.com/2vZjYSWyk5

— Alex Thompson (@AlexThomp) January 8, 2021

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