Responding to Tuesday afternoon’s news that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is guilty on eight criminal counts of bank and tax fraud, Republicans are warning President Trump not to issue him a pardon.
Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) told CNN Wednesday afternoon that a pardon “under these circumstances” would “be perceived by many Americans as, you know, interfering with an investigation.”
Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) similarly told the network that pardoning Manafort would be a “terrible mistake.”
Numerous congressional Republicans, including Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN), and Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn, have come out with similar statements.
Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the third-ranking member of GOP leadership, said he does not believe Manafort even deserves a pardon.
“Pardons should be used sparingly and you have to have some awfully compelling circumstances I would think and I certainly don’t know what those are in this case,” he said. “Pardons need to be earned.”
Congressional Republicans were put on guard by a Wednesday morning tweet from the president in which he expressed remorse for Manafort and called him a “brave man.”
I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. “Justice” took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to “break” – make up stories in order to get a “deal.” Such respect for a brave man!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2018
“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family,” Trump tweeted. “‘Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ – make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for a brave man!”
The tweet immediately sparked speculation among political pundits that Trump is considering pardoning Manafort, as he has pardoned several of his supporters whom he believes were treated unfairly by the justice system, including Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Dinesh D’Souza.
Trump’s pardons have been widely interpreted as implicit messages to his former campaign associates that their loyalty and refusal to cooperate with the special counsel’s investigation will be rewarded by him.
Other prominent conservatives voiced their concerns over a potential Manafort pardon, including conservative radio host Glenn Beck, who essentially told Trump, “I told you so.”
We all knew and I was ‘dangerously out spoken’ about Cohen AND Manafort B4 2016 They are both dirty. Manafort has been a corrupt, filthy political operative for decades. He tried to help Russia take and enslave Ukraine. NOT related to Trump. POTUS PLEASE DO NOT PARDON THESE MEN.
— Glenn Beck (@glennbeck) August 22, 2018
“We all knew and I was ‘dangerously out spoken’ about Cohen AND Manafort B4 2016 They are both dirty,” he tweeted Wednesday. “Manafort has been a corrupt, filthy political operative for decades. He tried to help Russia take and enslave Ukraine. NOT related to Trump. POTUS PLEASE DO NOT PARDON THESE MEN.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Trump’s lawyer Rudy Guiliani have both stated the president is not considering a pardon for Manafort “at this time.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s former lawyer and longtime fixer Michael Cohen, reportedly does not want a pardon from the president. Cohen’s lawyer has hinted he may flip against Trump.