Republicans warn Trump against Manafort pardon

Senate Republicans are warning President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE that it would be a serious mistake to pardon his former campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortNew York activists go on hunger strike to advocate for ending solitary confinement New York activists go on hunger strike to advocate for ending solitary confinement House panel subpoenas Flynn, Gates MORE, who was convicted late Tuesday on an array of fraud charges.  

“It would be an enormous mistake and misuse of his power to pardon,” Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report — Uproar after Trump's defense of foreign dirt on candidates The Hill's Morning Report — Uproar after Trump's defense of foreign dirt on candidates Democratic challenger to Susan Collins announces Senate bid MORE (R-Maine), a prominent moderate, told reporters.

Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynTrump puts GOP in tough spot with remarks on foreign 'dirt' Trump puts GOP in tough spot with remarks on foreign 'dirt' Overnight Health Care: Pelosi to change drug-pricing plan after complaints | 2020 Democrats to attend Planned Parenthood abortion forum | House holds first major 'Medicare for All' hearing MORE (Texas), the second-ranking Senate GOP leader, said that pardoning Manafort “would be a mistake.”

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Senate Republican Conference Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTrump's border funding comes back from the dead Public policy expert: US has become 'outlier' on immigration practices Public policy expert: US has become 'outlier' on immigration practices MORE (S.D.), the third-ranking member of the GOP leadership, said he is not aware of any mitigating circumstances related to Manafort’s case that would warrant a pardon.

“Pardons should be used sparingly and you have to have some awfully compelling circumstances I would think and I certainly don’t know what those are in this case,” he said. “Pardons need to be earned.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerPress: How 'Nervous Nancy' trumped Trump Press: How 'Nervous Nancy' trumped Trump Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump's impeachment MORE (R-Tenn.) warned that pardoning Manafort “would be very damaging to the presidency and to his position as president.”

Trump praised Manafort as “brave” shortly after a jury convicted him on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failing to disclose a foreign bank account.

He suggested that special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction 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 brought an unfair case against Manafort in order to compel damaging testimony against the president.

“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. ‘Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to 'break' - make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for a brave man!” Trump tweeted.

Trump’s remarks about Manafort stood in contrast to his comments about Michael Cohen, his former personal attorney who pleaded guilty to tax fraud, making a false statement to a financial institution and campaign finance violations on Tuesday. Trump has repeatedly criticized Cohen, but has offered supportive words for Manafort.

The contrast has raised questions about whether a pardon could be in the offering for Manafort.

Earlier this year, Trump claimed he had “absolute” pardon power — including power to pardon himself — and argued that Mueller’s investigation is unconstitutional.

In June, he pardoned conservative author Dinesh D’Souza and talked about pardons for other prominent convicts.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw House Intel Republican: 'Foolish' not to take info on opponent from foreign ally MORE (R-S.C.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, said he “would not recommend a pardon” for Manafort.

“You’ve got to earn a pardon. I think it would be seen as a bridge too far,” he said.

Graham declined to say what Congress would do if Trump did pardon Manafort.

Democrats warn a pardon of Manafort would create a crisis in Washington.

“If the president tries to pardon these people, there will be a constitutional crisis in our country,” said Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDemocratic White House hopefuls push to expand health care in US territories Democratic White House hopefuls push to expand health care in US territories Hillicon Valley: Democratic state AGs sue to block T-Mobile-Sprint merger | House kicks off tech antitrust probe | Maine law shakes up privacy debate | Senators ask McConnell to bring net neutrality to a vote MORE (D-Mass.). “That looks like a shutdown of the United States House of Representatives and Senate for all other business."

“It looks like an attempt to subvert our country’s constitutional processes as though President Trump is a dictator,” he added. “That is not going to be something that is going to be permitted to happen in this country.”

Molly Hooper contributed.