White House Refuses To Rule Out Pardon For Manafort

Sarah Huckabee Sanders addresses an audience.
Aaron P. Bernstein / Getty Images

In a Monday press conference, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that President Donald Trump has not yet ruled out the possibility of granting a pardon to his convicted former campaign manager Paul Manafort. According to Politico, Sanders tried to shut down speculation that the president was about to issue a pardon any day now, saying that Trump has not yet decided if and when a pardon is to be granted. The office watercooler betting odds on a pardon coming soon jumped on the news that Trump had been quoted saying he “felt badly” about Manafort, and that his former campaign manager and now convicted felon was going through a “very tough time.”

Still, Sanders was adamant that no decision had yet been reached, despite the president’s comments.

“The president has made his position on that clear. He’ll make a decision when he’s ready,” Sanders said.

Manafort’s case was all over the news last week as he was sentenced to 47 months for tax fraud and other financial crimes, a sentence well below federal guidelines that call for 19 to 24 years for convictions on such charges. It was also revealed in The Inquisitr and elsewhere that Manafort’s time – should he have to serve any – will be spent in a minimum-security facility that some have said is more reminiscent of a community college campus, featuring no locks on the “cell” doors and overnight visitor facilities so families and friends can stay over when visiting their inmate relatives.

The president has repeatedly contended that Manafort’s case is completely separate from the Russia investigation, and hammered on the point that there was “no collusion.”

Paul Manafort arrives at court.
  Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Trump went so far as to assert that the judge in Manafort’s case agreed that there was no collusion, when in fact Judge T.S. Ellis III was just pointing out that the case had to do with tax fraud, not Russia.

“Both the Judge and the lawyer in the Paul Manafort case stated loudly and for the world to hear that there was NO COLLUSION with Russia. But the Witch Hunt Hoax continues as you now add these statements to House & Senate Intelligence & Senator Burr. So bad for our Country,” Trump tweeted.

Manafort still faces sentencing Wednesday on crimes that were tried in a D.C. court, including witness tampering and failing to register as a foreign agent.

In addition, the state of New York is still in the process of preparing charges against Manafort that are said to include a number of other tax fraud charges, avoiding the “double jeopardy” of charging him twice for the same crime. Should Manafort be convicted of those charges, any sentence he is given would be immune from a presidential pardon, as they would come from a state court.