Dem senator: Pardoning targets of Russia probe would be 'crossing a fundamental line'

Dem senator: Pardoning targets of Russia probe would be 'crossing a fundamental line'
© Keren Carrion

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerFive Senate Democrats reportedly opposed to Biden banking nominee The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - House to vote on Biden social spending bill after McCarthy delay Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — US mulls Afghan evacuees' future MORE (D-Va.) on Thursday warned President TrumpDonald TrumpMedia giants side with Bannon on request to release Jan. 6 documents Cheney warns of consequences for Trump in dealings with Jan. 6 committee Jan. 6 panel recommends contempt charges for Trump DOJ official MORE that pardoning any of the targets of the investigation into collusion between his campaign and Russia would be "crossing a fundamental line."

In a statement late Thursday night issued by Warner's office, the Virginia Democrat blasted Trump over reports that Trump has spoken with his top advisers about the possibility of issuing pardons.

"Russia's interference in the 2016 elections was an attack on our democracy. Both the Senate Intelligence Committee and Special Counsel [Robert] Mueller are currently investigating whether any coordination occurred between Russia and individuals associated with the Trump campaign," Warner said.

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"The possibility that the President is considering pardons at this early stage in these ongoing investigations is extremely disturbing," he added.

"Pardoning any individuals who may have been involved would be crossing a fundamental line."

Warner's statement linked to a Washington Post report that claimed, among other things, that Trump has asked advisers "about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe."

According to a "close adviser" to Trump, these conversations are less about his eagerness to use the pardoning authority and more about Trump's curiosity about how it works.

“This is not in the context of, ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself,’ ” the adviser told The Washington Post.

In an interview Sunday with CBS's "Face the Nation," Warner said that emails revealing Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer for incriminating information on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBudowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema Countering the ongoing Republican delusion Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE moved the investigation into Russian collusion to a "new level."

"This is the first time that the public has seen in black and white on the email thread clear evidence that the Russians — and particularly there was a Russian government effort to try to undermine [Hillary] Clinton, help Trump," Warner said on Sunday.

"And what was remarkable was you saw not only willingness but actually glee from the president's son as well as involvement of the campaign manager and the president's son-in-law to say in effect, 'Yes, bring it on.' "

Warner called that response "very troubling."

"And obviously moves our whole investigation to another level," he said.