Graham: Pardoning Manafort would be ‘bridge too far’

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

GOP Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamLincoln Project mocks Lindsey Graham's fundraising lag with Sarah McLachlan-themed video The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Republicans lawmakers rebuke Trump on election Trump dumbfounds GOP with latest unforced error MORE (S.C.) said on Wednesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE should not pardon his former campaign manager Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortFBI official who worked with Mueller raised doubts about Russia investigation Our Constitution is under attack by Attorney General William Barr Bannon trial date set in alleged border wall scam 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) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout 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 CorkerHas Congress captured Russia policy? Tennessee primary battle turns nasty for Republicans Cheney clashes with Trump MORE (R-Tenn.) said, referring to the firing of then-FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeySteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence probe Judge will not dismiss McCabe's case against DOJ Democrats fear Russia interference could spoil bid to retake Senate MORE.

Asked if Trump should pardon Manafort, Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Ginsburg lies in repose CHC leaders urge Senate to oppose Chad Wolf nomination  MORE (R-Wis.) scrunched up his face before adding an emphatic "no."