Graham: Pardoning Manafort would be ‘bridge too far’

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

GOP Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamConservation remains a core conservative principle Graham: McCain 'acted appropriately' by handing Steele dossier to FBI The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump, Dems eye next stage in Mueller fight MORE (S.C.) said on Wednesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'Haven't thought about' pardons for Mueller target Pence: Rocket attack 'proves that Hamas is not a partner for peace' Conservation remains a core conservative principle MORE should not pardon his former campaign manager Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortTrump: 'Haven't thought about' pardons for Mueller target Trump: Mueller acted honorably Sanders: 'No discussion' of pardoning former Trump aides 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 Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe 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 keeps tight grip on GOP Brexit and exit: A transatlantic comparison Sasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger MORE (R-Tenn.) said, referring to the firing of then-FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyWhy Mueller's hedge on obstruction decision was a mistake The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump, Dems eye next stage in Mueller fight Treason narrative collapses; who bears responsibility? MORE.

Asked if Trump should pardon Manafort, Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonTrump UN pick donated to GOP members on Senate Foreign Relations panel Scott Walker considering running for Wisconsin governor or Senate: report GOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers MORE (R-Wis.) scrunched up his face before adding an emphatic "no."