US President Donald Trump declared on Saturday that he has "complete power to pardon," as his administration confronts ongoing investigations of possible ties between his 2016 campaign and Russia.
In a series of early morning Twitter messages, Trump aired renewed frustration with his attorney general, the special counsel leading the Russia probe, and Republicans in Congress who are struggling to advance his legislative agenda.
But Trump's comment about pardons, tucked into an attack on the media, raised the possibility that he was considering his options if the investigations do not turn out the way he hopes.
Trump did not specify who, if anyone, he might consider pardoning. His tweets appeared to be written in response to a report by The Washington Post this week that Trump and his legal team have examined presidential powers to pardon Trump aides, family members and possibly even himself.
Reuters has not confirmed the newspaper accounts.
"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," Trump wrote.
The Washington Post, citing current and former US officials, reported on Friday that Russia's ambassador to the United States was overheard by US spy agencies telling his bosses that he had discussed campaign-related matters with Trump adviser Jeff Sessions last year, when Sessions was a US senator.
Sessions now leads the Justice Department as Trump's attorney general. At the Senate confirmation hearings for his Cabinet position, Sessions initially failed to disclose his 2016 contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak and later said they were not about the campaign.
In March, Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe. During an interview with The New York Times this week, Trump lashed out at Sessions, saying he would not have chosen him for attorney general had he known Sessions would recuse himself.
Scholars have raised questions about the scope of the president's legal authority in issuing pardons. If Trump moved to pardon himself sometime in the future, the US Supreme Court might have to decide on the constitutionality, some have speculated.