A reporter asked Ted Cruz if Trump can actually pardon himself. Cruz's answer is pretty awkward.

Sen. Ted Cruz fields a constitutional law question
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

If you give him a chance, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) — a former Texas solicitor general and, as his former Harvard Law professors Alan Dershowitz and Lawrence Tribe will attest, a brilliant constitutional law student — will tell you that he has argued before the Supreme Court nine times. According to his campaign site, Cruz "is dedicated to upholding the rule of law and preserving the Constitution." But if you ask him, as The Weekly Standard's Haley Byrd did on Monday, if the president of the United States has the legal right to pardon himself, as Trump claims, Cruz might wait a full, awkward 18 seconds to tell you that "this is not a constitutional issue I've studied, so I will withhold judgment at this point."

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According to the Nixon Justice Department, the president cannot, in fact, pardon himself — and in fact, if Trump and his lawyers were correct that he can neither be indicted nor barred from pardoning himself even if he committed cold-blooded, politically motivated murder, the president would be above the law, an idea that Cruz would probably not agree with. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told reporters on Monday that if he "were president of the United States and I had a lawyer that told me I could pardon myself, I think I would hire a new lawyer." Still, if we are using former President Richard Nixon as a precedent, nobody really disputes that President Mike Pence could pardon Trump.

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