Lawmaker who pushed to impeach Nixon: Trump ‘systematically’ abusing power

A former lawmaker who pushed to impeach President Nixon in 1974 says that President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE is "systematically" abusing his power and warned that offers of pardons to former associates could be considered an impeachable offense.

Former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman (D-N.Y.) told MSNBC on Thursday that reports that Trump had discussed pardons for former associates including Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortMake the special counsel report public for the sake of Americans Paul Manafort should not be sentenced to 20 years in prison Mueller recommends Manafort serve at least 19 years in prison MORE bore similarity to the reasons cited in the articles of impeachment brought forward by her committee against Nixon.

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"I'm going to go back to Watergate and I'm going to say that part of the articles of impeachment that were voted by the House Judiciary Committee had to do with offers of pardons to the burglars to keep them quiet," Holtzman said.

"That is an abuse of power," she continued. "It is an abuse of power to use your pardon to shut people up because they could tell the truth about you, when you've violated the law."

Holtzman concluded that reports of the president's intention to possibly pardon Manafort and other former campaign officials, when combined with his threats to remove Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight The Memo: Trump and McCabe go to war McCabe book: Sessions once said FBI was better off when it 'only hired Irishmen' MORE and special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE, constituted a possibly impeachable offense.

"Trying to get rid of Sessions because he recused himself, which he had to do under ethics rules of the Justice Department...what we are seeing here is the president of the United States systematically abusing his power, time after time...this circumstance, that circumstance, abusing the power of his office."

Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani appeared to say Thursday that Trump had discussed with him the possibility of pardoning Manafort, before later releasing a statement clarifying that the conversation was a general one about pardons and not "Manafort specific."

“We told him he should wait until all the investigations are over,” Giuliani told The Washington Post. “This [Special Counsel] case is a strange case. It won’t be decided by a jury. It will decided by the Justice Department and Congress and ultimately the American people. You have to be sensitive to public optics."

The statement was a clear shift from his remarks in June on CNN, when Giuliani told the network that Trump “is not going to issue pardons in this investigation."

Manafort was found guilty this week on eight counts of tax and bank fraud, while a mistrial was declared on the remaining 10 counts. He faces another trial in Washington, D.C., next month.