Donald Trump will reveal in a Fox News interview airing Thursday that he is considering issuing a pardon for his 2016 campaign chair, Paul Manafort, who was convicted on Tuesday of eight felonies including tax fraud, bank fraud, and hiding a foreign bank account, as CNN reported. Manafort also faces a second trial starting September 17, as USA Today reports, in which the Trump campaign boss will face charges of money laundering, lying to the FBI and illegal foreign lobbying.
But Manafort’s convictions this week could directly affect Trump, because they increase the pressure on the 69-year-old political operative to cooperate with Russia investigation Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in exchange for a promise of lenient sentencing. Manafort was forced to quit the Trump campaign in August of 2016 over his ties to Russia. Court documents have shown, as the Inquisitr reported, that Manafort has been deeply in debt — to the tune of $10 million — to a billionaire Russian oligarch with close connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A pardon for Manafort could be seen as an attempt by Trump to prevent Manafort from cooperating with Mueller. The revelation that Trump is considering granting Manafort a pardon came on Wednesday from Fox News’ Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt, who conducted the interview with Trump that will air on Thurdsay at 6 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. In that same interview, as the Inquisitr reported, Trump also admitted that the cash for hush money payoffs to two women who say they had sexual relations with him “came from me.”
“He mentioned pardoning Manafort,” Earhardt told Fox News nighttime host Sean Hannity. “He said he would consider that. I think he feels bad for Manafort.”
But Earhardt’s revelation about her interview with Trump was not the first report on Wednesday that Trump may pardon Manafort. In a story published earlier on Wednesday afternoon, theNew York Times reported that even though Trump’s lawyer and public spokesperson Rudy Giuliani has said that a pardon of Manafort is not under consideration by Trump, in fact Trump has been heard to “privately muse about pardoning Mr. Manafort.”
“People who have known Mr. Trump for years pointed out that he has never been as cornered — or as isolated — as he is right now, and that he is at his most dangerous when he feels backed against the wall,” the Times report said.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, at a press briefing Wednesday, said that a pardon for Manafort is “not something that has been up for discussion,” according a CNBC report on the briefing.