Republicans warn Trump against Manafort pardon

Senate Republicans are warning 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 that it would be a serious mistake 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, 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 - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations Hillicon Valley: Senate bill would force companies to disclose value of user data | Waters to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency | GOP divided on election security bills | US tracking Russian, Iranian social media campaigns Stephen King: 'It's time for Susan Collins to go' MORE (R-Maine), a prominent moderate, told reporters.

Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynDemocrats give Trump trade chief high marks GOP senators divided over approach to election security GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks 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 ThuneHillicon Valley: Senate bill would force companies to disclose value of user data | Waters to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency | GOP divided on election security bills | US tracking Russian, Iranian social media campaigns GOP senators divided over approach to election security McSally on Moore running for Senate again: 'This place has enough creepy old men' 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 Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump's impeachment Jeff Daniels blasts 'cowardice' of Senate Republicans against Trump 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 Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump Schiff says Intel panel will hold 'series' of hearings on Mueller report 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 GrahamTrump puts the cart before the horse in Palestine Negotiators face major obstacles to meeting July border deadline Hillicon Valley: Senate bill would force companies to disclose value of user data | Waters to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency | GOP divided on election security bills | US tracking Russian, Iranian social media campaigns 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 MarkeySenate set to bypass Iran fight amid growing tensions Young activists press for change in 2020 election Hillicon Valley: House panel advances election security bill | GOP senator targets YouTube with bill on child exploitation | Hicks told Congress Trump camp felt 'relief' after release of Clinton docs | Commerce blacklists five Chinese tech groups 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.