Harris: Trump pardon of Manafort would be evidence of a crime

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations Biden to debate for first time as front-runner Rules for first Democratic primary debates announced MORE (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that if President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question MORE were to pardon his former campaign chairman, Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortREAD: Hannity, Manafort messages released by judge Manafort, Hannity talk Trump, Mueller in previously undisclosed messages FBI, warned early and often that Manafort file might be fake, used it anyway MORE, it would amount to obstruction of justice.

"I think that if the president were to grant a pardon, that would be evidence of yet another crime," Harris told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell.

Manafort was convicted Tuesday on eight of 18 counts of tax fraud and bank fraud as part of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump Schiff says Intel panel will hold 'series' of hearings on Mueller report MORE's investigation. Within minutes of his conviction, Trump's ex-attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to charges of tax fraud, bank fraud and campaign finance violations.

ADVERTISEMENT

Cohen implicated Trump, telling the court that he violated campaign finance laws at the direction of a candidate for federal office.

"I would think that folks would understand that this has reached a point, that is like that point years ago during the Watergate scandal," Harris said Wednesday.

Harris, who is considered a likely contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, has emerged as one of the president's fiercest critics.

Pressed on whether recent events, including the Trump administration's response to wildfires in her home state of California, have made her more seriously consider a presidential bid in 2020, Harris demurred.

"I appreciate you asking the question, but I really need to and want to speak to what's happened in the last day," Harris said. "I believe that the future of our republic is very much in the balance. I believe the future of our democracy is very much in balance."

Harris positioned Trump's latest legal woes as a good enough reason to put off the confirmation hearing for the president's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Her comments echoed those made by other Senate Democrats in the wake of developments involving Cohen and Manafort.

Harris, who has already vowed to oppose Kavanaugh, said she believes the confirmation process was already being rushed along without proper access to documents related to the judge's past work.

"I would suggest that an un-indicted co-conspirator to a crime should not be in the business of having the ability to appoint someone to a lifetime position on the highest court in our land," Harris said of Trump. "And I think it's imperative to pay attention to this moment and understand it and see it for what it is. It's going to be a question about the strength of our democracy and our republic."