President Donald Trump has reportedly discussed the possibility of granting a presidential pardon to his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. On Tuesday, The New York Times learned that Trump and Giuliani had discussed the idea as recently as last week, though it is not clear who brought it up first. It is also not clear what Giuliani expects to need a pardon for, since he has not been charged with any crimes.
Giuliani was quick to deny the reports of a pardon discussion with Trump. In a tweet, he said that the Times is lying and that he "never had the discussion [that] they falsely attribute to an anonymous source." Senior Times reporters Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt stand by their report, and discussions of pardons within Trump's team have been heating up recently.
#FakeNews NYT lies again. Never had the discussion they falsely attribute to an anonymous source. Hard to keep up with all their lies.— Rudy W. Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) December 1, 2020
Trump did issue a presidential pardon for his former national security adviser Michael Flynn last week, after allowing President-elect Joe Biden's team to move forward with its transition of power. Flynn had pleaded guilty to "willfully and knowingly" lying to the FBI as part of the Special Counsel investigation, but Flynn later withdrew his guilty plea.
Trump himself was impeached by the U.S. Congress on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice, though the Republican-controlled Senate acquitted him of these charges. Last week, a former member of the Special Counsel team wrote an op-ed for the Times arguing that Trump should be investigated and perhaps prosecuted once again when Biden takes office. They argued that, among other possible federal crimes, Trump did abuse his power by interfering with the investigation into himself by Robert Mueller.
Fox News host Sean Hannity responded to that op-ed on Monday with a familiar suggestion: a presidential pardon. On the air, he advised Trump to issue a pardon for himself before leaving office. "If that's what they want to do, if Biden ever became president, I'd tell Trump to pardon yourself and pardon your family," Hannity said.
As for Giuliani, there is only speculation about what crimes he might fear being charged with. There is of course the incident from the Borat sequel, in which Giuliani sexually harassed a girl he had been told was 15 years old. However, a report by The Hill notes that Giuliani "has been at the forefront of the Trump campaign's efforts to dispute the 2020 election results." If any of those efforts have strained the bounds of legality so far, it has not been widely reported or made clear.