Ex-federal prosecutor: I would never have approved latest Manafort indictment

Former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi told Hill.TV on Friday that he would never have approved the latest indictment against former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortTrump says he would consider pardons for those implicated in Mueller investigation Graham releases newly declassified documents on Russia probe The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Argentum - Mask mandates, restrictions issued as COVID-19 spreads MORE on mortgage fraud charges, calling it a political move. 

The new charges against Mueller were announced by New York state prosecutors just minutes after he was sentenced in the second of two trials that resulted from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's investigation into Russia's election interference.

"In the 30 years with [the Department of Justice], I would never have approved that indictment," Rossi told hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on "Rising." 

"You have a defendant, 70 years-old, indicted in D.C. and the Eastern District of Virginia, two judges made a decision to give him a combined 90 months, and now you have a third indictment by a state prosecutor," he continued. 

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced 16 charges against Manafort shortly after he was sentenced to prison in a federal court in Washington on Wednesday. The charges are the first Manafort has faced that fall outside the purview of a possible presidential pardon.

The charges include residential mortgage fraud, attempted mortgage fraud, falsifying business records and conspiracy.

"The decision to indict the third time by Cy Vance, to me, is more political than being a prosecutor and it bothers me," Rossi said. "The purpose of that indictment is just one reason: to be a catch-all if the president pardons Paul Manafort." 

"If a Democrat gets back in the White House, and the Republicans hope that never happens again, but a Democrat will get back into the White House, that president may pardon somebody. It could be a drug case, it could be a fraud case, and if you have an aggressive state prosecutor, they're going to say, 'you know what? I'm going to indict them because the double jeopardy clause doesn't prevent me from doing that,'" he said. "You'll have the same situation, and it's going to haunt the Democrats. That's why I don't like it."

Trump has not ruled out pardoning Manafort, telling reporters on Wednesday that he felt "very bad" for his former campaign chairman. 

Rossi, who has been critical of Trump in the Russia probe, is a Democrat who was defeated in the party's primary for Virginia's lieutenant governor in 2017. 

— Julia Manchester