Senate

Barr: It would be a crime for president to pardon someone in exchange for their silence

William Barr, President Trump’s nominee to serve as attorney general, said on Tuesday that it would be illegal for a U.S. president to pardon an individual if that person agreed not to incriminate the commander in chief in a criminal offense.

Do you believe a president could lawfully issue a pardon in exchange for the recipient’s promise not incriminate him?” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) asked Barr during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“No, that would be a crime,” Barr said. 

{mosads}The pointed question comes as Democrats warn that President Trump could seek to interfere in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation — a probe Barr has vowed he will allow to run its course unhindered.

Mueller already has a series of cooperating witnesses working with his investigation as he continues to examine possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

They include former Trump campaign aides Michael Flynn, Richard Gates and George Papadopoulos, as well as Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

Flynn and Gates have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the investigation and are awaiting sentencing, Papadopoulos served 12 days for lying to investigators about his contacts with Russia-linked officials during the campaign and Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements to a bank, a campaign finance violation and lying to Congress.

Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, was cooperating with the investigation until Mueller’s team recently accused him of lying to them, which Manafort’s team denies.

Manafort was convicted of multiple counts of fraud, and then pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges to avoid a second trial. He is also awaiting sentencing.

— This report was updated at 11:51 a.m.

Tags Donald Trump George Papadopoulos Patrick Leahy Paul Manafort Robert Mueller

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