President Donald Trump is actually answering questions about a potential pardon of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, whose prosecution by Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been a concern for Trump.
Remarkably, just two days after convicted felon Manafort’s cooperation agreement with the special counsel completely fell apart, with some suggesting that he lied because he only cares about getting a pardon from the president, Trump has decided to answer questions on this subject.
“It was never discussed, but I wouldn’t take it off the table. Why would I take it off the table?” he said.
Although Trump does have the power to do this, there are a lot of reasons why he should consider taking this “off the table.” Some legal experts have argued, for example, that the move would be a presidency-ender.
It never occurred to me that Manafort and (particularly) his lawyers could be so stupid to back channel information to Trump, and therefore I did not think his lies were related to a pardon. A pardon now should result in Trump’s immediate expulsion from office.
— Daniel Goldman (@danielsgoldman) November 28, 2018
Former federal prosecutor Daniel S. Goldman pointed to the fact that Trump and Manafort have had a joint defense agreement in place and that their lawyers have been communicating about what Mueller was up to. This could explain Trump’s recent outbursts on Twitter ahead of major developments in Manafort’s case.
“To have lawyers communicating like this as a sort of inside informant into the investigation going back to the lawyer for a subject of the investigation is obviously improper … and it may be illegal, depending on whether there’s obstruction of justice or witness tampering coming from the president and his lawyers,” Goldman said.
Trump went on to call Manafort, Jerome Corsi, and Roger Stone “brave.” All three men are under investigation by Mueller, and the latter two have called Mueller an agent of the “deep state.”
Manafort, meanwhile, maintains that he did not lie as Mueller claims.
Goldman told Law&Crime that a pardon of Manafort “should be the end of [Trump’s] presidency,” but added that “a lot of things he says and does should be rebuked by Republicans in Congress, who are instead compliant enablers of the President’s malfeasance.”
“We now have more evidence that Manafort was essentially the President’s mole in the Mueller’s investigation, and we can therefore assume — before we find out concretely in a couple of months from the Special Counsel’s sentencing memorandum in Manafort’s case — that at least some of Manafort’s lies relate to the President,” he said. “A pardon of Manafort can therefore only be interpreted as a reward for protecting the President or his family from incriminating information. This is blatant obstruction of justice that should lead to immediate impeachment and expulsion from the Presidency.”
“At some point, even for partisan creatures in Congress, our fundamental values, including the rule of law, must take priority over political expediency. A Manafort pardon is well over that line,” he added. “If it doesn’t lead to impeachment or a forced resignation, then the only option the public has is to vote Trump and his enablers out of office in 2020. At the end of the day, the American people have a voice at the ballot box, and we should do everything possible to make sure people can use that right.”
[Image via Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images]