Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said President Trump is not acting like an innocent man and is “dead wrong” when he insists he can pardon himself.
Asked by NPR’s Rachel Martin about whether a self-pardon would prompt Schumer to support moving toward impeachment, the top Senate Democrat said, “We don’t want to get to the point where there is a constitutional crisis.” But he added about Trump’s behavior, “for someone who keeps loudly proclaiming his innocence he sure doesn’t act like it if he did. Then why would he want to talk about pardoning himself?”
Schumer took issue both with the president’s legal team arguing the executive held this authority and Trump calling special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe “unconstitutional,” telling NPR that the president was “0 for 2 on the Constitution.”
“We do not have a dictatorship. The Founding Fathers did not want a king. That means no one — including the president himself — is above the law. He’s just dead wrong,” Schumer said in an interview with Martin in his Capitol office on Monday.
Schumer, along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has repeatedly steered away from discussing the threat of impeachment, arguing it’s premature to discuss the possibility. He sidestepped the issue again in his conversation with NPR, but instead raised questions about why the president is even talking about a pardon.
The New York Democrat, who would be in line to be the Senate majority leader if his party takes control of the chamber in the November midterm elections, told NPR that the Senate is “definitely in play.”
He agreed with the current Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who told the Washington Post last month that Republicans are at risk of losing their narrow 51-49 majority in November because of tight contests in several battleground states.
“The conventional wisdom is very hard for Democrats to take back the Senate when you look at the geography from 10,000 feet. When you look at what’s happening in each state, McConnell’s right it’s definitely in play,” Schumer said Monday.
The math for Senate Democrats is challenging this election cycle. They are defending 26 seats, including two independents who caucus with Democrats, while Republicans are only working to retain 9 GOP seats in November.
One area where Schumer did say he agrees with Trump more than his predecessors, former Presidents Obama and George W. Bush, is his focus on being tougher on China.
“I don’t think either previous president did much to show China they meant business. Trump has talked about it,” the Senate minority leader said. But Schumer said he’s still waiting to see how the president follows through on the issue, saying, “he hasn’t yet done it but let’s wait and see.”
Of all the top congressional leaders, Schumer has the longest relationship with the president, stemming from their New York ties. He told Martin that he talks with the president “every so often” and most recently weighed in with him with a half-hour conversation about trade policy with China.
“We are certainly adversaries and I think he’s doing damage to our democracy and damage to the middle class in this country.” “But,” Schummer added, “I’ll never cut off a line of communication.”