- President Donald Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani talked about the pros and cons of pardoning Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
- Manafort was convicted on eight counts of financial fraud a day earlier.
- Trump has since distanced himself from Manafort and asserted that “it doesn’t involve me,” when asked about the crimes for which Manafort was convicted.
President Donald Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani talked about the pros and cons of pardoning Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
According to the newspaper, Giuliani echoed Trump’s assertion that he believes Manafort was treated “horribly” by the justice system.
On Tuesday, Manafort was convicted on eight counts of financial fraud. He was charged with 18 counts, but the judge declared a mistrial after the jury was unable to reach a verdict for ten counts.
Trump has since distanced himself from Manafort and said “it doesn’t involve me.”
“But it’s a very sad thing that happened,” Trump said. “This has nothing to with Russian collusion.”
In several tweets on Wednesday morning, Trump referred to Manafort as “a brave man,” and contrasted his behavior with that of Michael Cohen, his longtime personal attorney, who implicated Trump as a participant in his crimes in a plea deal he signed a day earlier.
Cohen claimed that his campaign finance violations, related to a $130,000 payment made to the porn star Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence — were made “at the direction of the candidate” with “the purpose of influencing the election.” Lanny Davis, Cohen’s attorney, later confirmed that candidate was Trump.
A pardon for Manafort would not be an unprecedented action from Trump. During his tenure, he pardoned Joe Arpaio, the controversial Arizona sheriff who took up an anti-immigration stance; Dinesh D’Souza, a right-wing personality who pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud; and Scooter Libby, former Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice.
But the inherent risk tied to a Manafort pardon is not lost on Giuliani and Trump, according to The Times’ report, which said Trump was “uncertain about the political fallout” from such a move.
Manafort will face a new judge and jury in another trial in September on charges including obstructing justice and failing to register as a foreign agent.