Dem: Trump pardoning Manafort would be grounds for impeachment

Dem: Trump pardoning Manafort would be grounds for impeachment
© Greg Nash

California Rep. Ted Lieu (D) said Thursday that a decision by President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE to pardon his former campaign chairman, Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDem warns Trump: 'Obstruction of justice' to fire Rosenstein Ex-White House official revises statement to Mueller after Flynn guilty plea: report Former White House lawyer sought to pay Manafort, Gates legal fees: report MORE, would be grounds for impeachment, as Manafort faces a jury's impending verdict in his ongoing trial.

But he added that he didn't think Republicans would punish such a move.

"I believe pardoning Paul Manafort would be grounds for impeachment," Lieu told CNN. "Whether Republicans would act on that, I don’t think they would."

"[That] is why this November the voters across America have a chance to change the makeup of Congress and put a real check and balance by putting in Democrats to control," he added.

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Trump said in June that it was "too early" to consider pardons for any of his former aides ensnared by the special counsel investigation, but said a month later that everyone agrees that the president has the "complete" power to pardon any U.S. citizen.

When pressed by CNN's Jim Acosta on whether Democrats in Congress could take any actions before the midterms if a hypothetical pardon were issued, Lieu deflected and said that Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's special counsel investigation could decide to take action if they believed a pardon was issued with the intent to dissuade Manafort from cooperating with Mueller's investigation.

Nearly 60 House Democrats voted to introduce articles of impeachment against the president last December, an issue that has however failed to gain traction among Democratic leadership so far.

Manafort's fate in his Virginia trial for a slew of charges unrelated to alleged Russian collusion with Trump's campaign now rests with the jury, after the defense rested without calling any witnesses on Monday.

He is charged with bank fraud and money laundering related to alleged efforts to hide millions made in Ukraine in a number of foreign bank accounts, which prosecutors said he used to fund a lavish lifestyle in the United States.

Manafort's tenure with the Trump campaign ended before the 2016 presidential election over controversy surrounding his lobbying work.