President Donald Trump said he’s never discussed — or considered — pardoning Paul Manafort, his former campaign manager who pleaded guilty and made a deal with Russia investigation special counsel Robert Mueller. But the president also said this week that it’s an idea he hasn’t dismissed doing, either.
The comments from the president come in the same week that it was revealed that Manafort — whose plea deal is under re-consideration by the special counsel after it was discovered he’d been lying to investigators — also had his lawyer briefing Trump’s legal team on what Mueller’s investigation had been asking him about, per previous reporting from the Inquisitr.
It was a revelation that Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, suggested was happening. “[Mueller] wants Manafort to incriminate Trump,” Giuliani said.
Some have suggested that Manafort went behind the backs of the special counsel’s office in order to gain favor with Trump, to secure for himself a pardon from the president. Trump, on Wednesday, suggested that a pardon for Manafort wasn’t on his mind — but that he reserved the right to issue one if he wanted to.
A pardon for Manafort “was never discussed, but I wouldn’t take it off the table,” Trump said, according to reporting from the New York Post. “Why would I take it off the table?”
Within the same interview, Trump suggested that Mueller’s team was purposely trying to get Manafort — and others involved in the investigation — to lie so that any answers Trump gave to the special counsel would be deemed as a lie also. “If you told the truth, you go to jail,” he said.
Trump also compared the investigation to events that took place during the “Red Scare” of the late 1940s through the early 1950s.
“[T]his is McCarthyism. We are in the McCarthy era. This is no better than McCarthy. And that was a bad situation for the country. But this is where we are. And it’s a terrible thing.”
While the president’s pardon power is one of the few Constitutional tools he has at his disposal that does not have a check from any other branch of government, some experts have suggested that his use of the pardon would be an impeachable offense.
“While the pardon power is quite broad under the Constitution, that does not mean that exercises of the pardon power — or promises to grant pardons — cannot be obstructive,” said Lisa Kern Griffin, a law professor at Duke University, per reporting from Vox back in March. “Like any other lawful act, such as terminating executive branch employees, a pardon could be unlawful if done with the corrupt intent to impede an investigation or influence a witness.”