Trump refuses to rule out Manafort pardon

Trump refuses to rule out Manafort pardon
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpAmash responds to 'Send her back' chants at Trump rally: 'This is how history's worst episodes begin' McConnell: Trump 'on to something' with attacks on Dem congresswomen Trump blasts 'corrupt' Puerto Rico's leaders amid political crisis MORE on Wednesday did not rule out the possibility of pardoning former campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortWebb: Questions for Robert Mueller Top Mueller prosecutor Zainab Ahmad joins law firm Gibson Dunn Russian oligarch's story could spell trouble for Team Mueller MORE, who was convicted in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTop Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE's Russia probe.

“It was never discussed, but I wouldn’t take it off the table. Why would I take it off the table?” Trump said during an interview with the New York Post.

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The New York Times reported in March that former Trump lawyer John Dowd discussed the possibility of a pardon with Manafort's legal team. Dowd denied the report.

Trump also intensified attacks on Mueller after the special counsel accused Manafort of lying to investigators after agreeing to cooperate with authorities.

The president suggested Mueller's team was attempting to induce Manafort, as well as his onetime adviser Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneJudge finds Stone violated gag order, blocks him from using social media Counterprotesters outnumber far-right extremists at DC rally Judge orders Roger Stone to file rebuttal to allegation he violated gag order MORE and associate Jerome Corsi, to lie to incriminate him or others.

“You know, this flipping stuff is terrible. You flip and you lie and you get — the prosecutors will tell you 99 percent of the time they can get people to flip. It’s rare that they can’t,” Trump said, adding “if you told the truth, you go to jail.

Trump again praised Manafort as “brave,” a label he first used to describe his former campaign boss in August after his conviction on bank and tax fraud charges.

The president also likened the Russia investigation to Sen. Joseph McCarthy's infamous probe of Communist influence in the 1950s.

“We are in the McCarthy era. This is no better than McCarthy. And that was a bad situation for the country. But this is where we are. And it’s a terrible thing,” Trump added.

Critics suggested Manafort was feeding false information to Mueller in order to get back in the president's good graces and angle for a pardon.

Manafort is in a joint defense agreement with Trump and his legal team was reportedly in communication with the president's lawyers during the period of his cooperation.