Trump refuses to rule out Manafort pardon

Trump refuses to rule out Manafort pardon
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump FBI identifies Pensacola shooter as Saudi Royal Saudi Air Force second lieutenant Trump calls Warren 'Pocahontas,' knocks wealth tax MORE on Wednesday did not rule out the possibility of pardoning former campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortGiuliani draws attention with latest trip to Ukraine GOP senators request interview with former DNC contractor to probe possible Ukraine ties GOP fantasies about Ukrainian election 'interference' blow up Trump's impeachment defense MORE, who was convicted in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by 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 StoneSchiff says investigators seeking to identify who Giuliani spoke to on unlisted '-1' number What if impeachment fails? Juan Williams: Trump has nothing left but smears 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.