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Graham: Pardoning Manafort would be ‘bridge too far’

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

GOP Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: Trump can make GOP bigger, stronger, or he 'could destroy it' Sunday shows preview: Manchin makes the rounds after pivotal role in coronavirus relief debate Georgia DA investigating Trump taps racketeering expert for probe: report MORE (S.C.) said on Wednesday that President TrumpDonald TrumpUS, South Korea reach agreement on cost-sharing for troops Graham: Trump can make GOP bigger, stronger, or he 'could destroy it' Biden nominates female generals whose promotions were reportedly delayed under Trump MORE should not pardon his former campaign manager Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortProsecutors drop effort to seize three Manafort properties after Trump pardon FBI offers 0K reward for Russian figure Kilimnik New York court rules Manafort can't be prosecuted by Manhattan DA 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) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump 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 CorkerIt's time for Biden's Cuba GOP lawmaker patience runs thin with Trump tactics Former GOP senator: Republicans cannot let Trump's 'reckless' post-election claims stand MORE (R-Tenn.) said, referring to the firing of then-FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyWray says FBI not systemically racist John Durham's endgame: Don't expect criminal charges Trump DOJ officials sought to block search of Giuliani records: report MORE.

Asked if Trump should pardon Manafort, Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonMarjorie Taylor Greene's delay tactics frustrate GOP Democrats gear up for PR battle on COVID-19 relief Johnson says leaving office after 2022 'probably my preference now' MORE (R-Wis.) scrunched up his face before adding an emphatic "no."