Graham: Pardoning Manafort would be ‘bridge too far’

Graham: Pardoning Manafort would be ‘bridge too far’
© Greg Nash

GOP Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamBolton exit provokes questions about Trump shift on Iran The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Graham: US should consider strike on Iranian oil refineries after attack on Saudi Arabia MORE (S.C.) said on Wednesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE should not pardon his former campaign manager Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDemocrats return to a battered Trump Manafort's legal team argues NY prosecution constitutes double jeopardy Clip surfaces of Paul Manafort and wife on Nickelodeon game show MORE, warning that it would be a “bridge too far.” 

"I would not recommend a pardon. You've got to earn a pardon. I think it would be seen as a bridge too far,” Graham, who has emerged as an ally for the president, told reporters.

But pressed if he thought Congress would act if Trump took the dramatic step, Graham demurred, saying he didn’t want to discuss “what ifs.”

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Manafort was found guilty on Tuesday of eight charges of bank and tax fraud. The verdict immediately raised questions about whether Trump would try to pardon his former campaign manager, after showing sympathy for him throughout his trial.

Trump in a tweet on Wednesday called the case against Manafort a “witch hunt.”

“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 said in a separate tweet. 

The decision is a victory for special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal MORE's team of prosecutors, which faced its first test in court on the Manafort case. 

Graham separately told reporters that pardoning Manafort "would be perceived by many Americans as, you know, interfering with an investigation."

Graham isn’t the only GOP senator warning Trump against pardoning Manafort. 

“I would think that would be very damaging to his health. It would be another strategic error just like the Comey error,” Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (R-Tenn.) said, referring to the firing of then-FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyHouse Democrats seeking Sessions's testimony in impeachment probe Justice OIG completes probe on FBI surveillance of ex-Trump campaign aide Aggrieved Trump rips Dems for 'sad' impeachment effort MORE.

Asked if Trump should pardon Manafort, Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonDemocratic senator warns O'Rourke AR-15 pledge could haunt party for years Conservatives offer stark warning to Trump, GOP on background checks Hillicon Valley: Google to promote original reporting | Senators demand answers from Amazon on worker treatment | Lawmakers weigh response to ransomware attacks MORE (R-Wis.) scrunched up his face before adding an emphatic "no."