President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, said on Wednesday it was an "open question" whether Trump could pardon himself and added that the top US judicial body "can't control" whether a president obeys its decisions.
She also sought to allay Democratic fears that she would be an automatic vote to strike down the Obamacare healthcare law in a case due to be argued Nov. 10, promising an "open mind."
Barrett wrapped up about eight hours of questioning on the third day of her four-day Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing. The committee was to hear yesterday from witnesses both for and against her confirmation, but Barrett herself will not be present.
Trump has said he has the "absolute power" to pardon himself, part of his executive clemency authority. Asked by Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy whether a president could pardon himself for a crime, Barrett said the "question has never been litigated."
"That question may or may not arise but it's one that calls for legal analysis of what the scope of the pardon power is. So because it would be opining on an open question when I haven't gone through the judicial process to decide it, it's not one on which I can offer a view," Barrett added.
Trump also has issued executive clemency to political allies and friends.
Barrett, a conservative federal appellate judge, is Trump's third selection for a lifetime Supreme Court post. Trump has asked the Senate to confirm Barrett before the Nov 3 US election.