Donald Trump may have just committed an impeachable offense with his latest public comments on the Paul Manafort trial, a political analyst claims.
This week, Trump refused to say to reporters whether he might consider pardoning his former campaign manager if he were convicted of the criminal tax evasion charges he faces, but did offer some thoughts on the charges against Manafort. Trump said that the “whole Manafort trial is very sad,” words that political analyst David Atkins said could constitute an attempt to tamper with Manafort’s jury and lead to an acquittal. Writing for Washington Monthly, Atkins said that the words were really an attempt to convince the jury — which has not been sequestered and could have seen or heard Trump’s words — to find Manafort not guilty of the charges.
As Atkins wrote, Trump’s words appeared to be directed at the jury members.
“Of course, jurors are instructed to ignore all outside information about the case they are deliberating. But it’s going to be very difficult for jurors not to hear commentary on it by the President of the United States. Ideally, the jurors would have been carefully screened for excess partisan sentiment, but that would be extraordinarily difficult given that Judge Ellis’ so-called ‘rocket docket’; only spent less than a day to impanel the entire jury. All it would take is one partisan juror attempting to do the president’s bidding, and Trump would know that.”
Atkins noted that Donald Trump has a legal obligation to remain quiet about an ongoing trial, and that his words constitute a criminal attempt to tamper with the jury, which would be an impeachable offense.
As other have noted, any efforts to actually impeach Donald Trump would require a massive political shift. Though Trump’s popularity has been at historic lows with voters, he still enjoys support from nearly all Republicans in Congress, and so any attempt to impeach him would almost certainly fail. Democrats have also been reluctant to pursue any efforts to impeach Trump, waiting instead for the final Russia investigation findings.
Donald Trump’s musings on the Paul Manafort trial may not have much an effect on the outcome, experts say. As one insider in the Russia probe told Politico, Manafort is expected to be found guilty in this trial, and even if he someone does get off, he still faces another trial in September on charges of money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent for his work on behalf of Ukraine.