World

Trump mulling Russia investigation pardons

Bombshell report says US President exploring pardon powers

WASHINGTON A series of Trump-related bombshells have caused the already shaky ground he and the Republicans are standing on to shake even further.

An explosive Washington Post article yesterday said US President Donald Trump was consulting with advisers "about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself" in connection to the probe led by special counsel and former FBI director Robert Mueller.

It caused the highest-ranking Democrat in the Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator Mark Warner, to say: "The possibility that the President is considering pardons at this early stage in these ongoing investigations is extremely disturbing.

"Pardoning any individuals who may have been involved would be crossing a fundamental line."

US intelligence agencies have accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of approving an influence campaign to sway the November 2016 vote in Trump's favour, allegations rejected by the Kremlin.

The Trump administration is currently under investigation by both Congress and the FBI over his presidential campaign's possible ties to Russia.

The controversy grew after Mr Trump's eldest son Donald Jr. released e-mails in mid-July showing he held a meeting during the campaign with Kremlin-connected figures, hoping to get dirt on his father's election rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

And if the Washington Post article wasn't enough, the New York Times dropped another incendiary report.

SCRUTINY

It reported that Mr Trump's lawyers and aides are scouring the professional and political backgrounds of investigators hired by Mr Mueller, looking for conflicts of interest they could use to discredit the investigation - or even build a case to fire the special counsel or get members of his team recused, according to three people with knowledge of the research effort.

Mr Trump's problems did not end there as CNN fired another salvo. It reported yesterday that firms linked to Kushner Companies are using Mr Trump's son-in-law's Jared Kushner's position in the White House to woo Chinese property investors.

The news outlet said online promotions by two companies that are working with Mr Kushner's family business have made references to him, in a bid to lure rich Chinese to invest in the Kushners' property development in New Jersey.

The promotions, posted on WeChat in Chinese, referred to Mr Kushner as "Mr Perfect" and "the celebrity of the family" .

One of the promotions, posted in May by a Florida-based company called US Immigration Fund, referred to Mr Kushner's appearance on the cover of December's Forbes Magazine, with the headline, "This guy got Trump elected".

CNN said the post was removed after it approached the company for comment.

The promotions target well-heeled Chinese willing to pay at least US$500,000 (S$683,000) each in exchange for a US visa under a government programme called EB-5. The programme grants up to 10,000 immigrant visas a year.

When queried by CNN, a Kushner Companies spokesman said: "Kushner Companies was not aware of these sites and has nothing to do with them."

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