Trump pardoning himself would be "arrogant statement of power," Newt Gingrich says

Former House Speaker and Trump ally Newt Gingrich warned President Trump against pardoning himself should special counsel Robert Mueller pursue charges in the ongoing Russia investigation, telling "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday that it would be an "arrogant statement of power" if he did so. 

"I don't think he can pardon himself, that would lead to a reaction in the Congress that would be devastating," Gingrich said.

Gingrich's comments come after Mr. Trump declared Monday that he has the "absolute right" to pardon himself, but added he had done nothing wrong. The president asserted his presidential power as the White House is honing its political and legal defenses against the special counsel's Russia probe. Gingrich, however, said that Congress has the "absolute right to impeach him."

"If a president was dumb enough to pardon himself, that would be such an arrogant statement of power that the House would probably impeach him in a week and the Senate would convict him," Gingrich said.

When asked why the president would suggest such a move, Gingrich cited Mr. Trump's bravado, saying he learned in New York City media that "churning works," later calling him a "storyteller" and an "entertainer."

Amid threats of a potential subpoena for Mr. Trump to appear before the special counsel's team for an interview in the Russia investigation, Gingrich said such a subpoena would lead to a Supreme Court testing. He said that the president ultimately wants to avoid ending up in a room with Mueller and his team he could risk perjuring himself. 

"If he makes any mistake that becomes grounds for either obstruction or perjury," said Gingrich. He added, "he should tell the truth but he also likes to tell stories and sometimes his stories stretch things."

Gingrich said he would counsel the president to be "extraordinarily cautious about ending up in a room where you have 15 hostile lawyers trying to play gotcha."

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital