Graham: Pardoning Manafort would be ‘bridge too far’
GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) said on Wednesday that President Trump should not pardon his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, 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.”
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.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2018
The decision is a victory for special counsel Robert Mueller’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.”
.@LindseyGrahamSC: “I don’t think a pardon” for Manafort “under these circumstances, would go over well.” It “would be perceived by many Americans as, you know, interfering with an investigation.”
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) August 22, 2018
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 Corker (R-Tenn.) said, referring to the firing of then-FBI Director James Comey.
Asked if Trump should pardon Manafort, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) scrunched up his face before adding an emphatic “no.”