Paul Manafort learned his fate on Wednesday, as Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced him to 73 months in prison for his federal case in Washington, D.C. This happens after Manafort was already sentenced to 47 months in a related federal case in Virginia, with 30 months running concurrent for both cases. That added up to 7.5 years in prison. Both of these sentences could go away very quickly if President Donald Trump issues a pardon for his former campaign chairman, and Trump was asked about this after Wednesday’s sentencing. Trump’s answer was a little bit different from what he’s said before.
“I have not even given it a thought as of this moment,” Trump said. “It’s not something that’s right now on my mind. I do feel badly for Paul Manafort, that I can tell you.”
This is a little different from what Trump said in Nov. 2018. Back then, he told the New York Post, “It was never discussed, but I wouldn’t take it off the table. Why would I take it off the table?”
Actually discussing a pardon is very different from thinking about it, and the fact that Trump went so far as to say that it was an option indicated at the time that he had at least given it some thought. Otherwise, he could have simply answered as he did on Wednesday.
Trump saying that he feels badly for Manafort may or may not be a sign of a forthcoming pardon. In the past, Trump has tweeted about how poorly he felt Manafort was being treated. He has described several figures who were pardoned as being “treated unfairly.”
A pardon would not necessarily help Manafort tremendously, as he now faces state charges in New York for alleged mortgage fraud. Trump’s pardon power only applies to federal crimes, so he would not be able to help Manafort in a state case.
When told about these new charges, Trump said, “I don’t know anything about that, I haven’t heard that. I’ll take a look at it.”
[Image via CNN screengrab]