2018-08-25 15:37:10 UTC
President Donald Trumps lawyers and a cadre of informal White House advisers
claim theyve convinced him not to pardon Paul Manafort but White House
officials expect the president to do it anyway.
The presidents characterization of his former campaign chairman as a victim and
brave man is being read by aides as a signal that Trump wants to use his
unilateral authority to issue pardons to absolve Manafort, according to eight
current and former administration officials and outside advisers.
Trump is setting it up. Hes referring to the investigation as a witch hunt
and saying this never would have happened to an aide to Hillary Clinton, said
one former campaign official.
Three senior administration aides said the president has not expressed to them
directly any immediate intention of pardoning Manafort, who was convicted
earlier this week on eight counts of felony tax evasion and bank fraud. Rudy
Giuliani, Trumps lawyer, told The Washington Post on Thursday that the
president had agreed not to pardon Manafort, who faces a second trial on
lobbying violations in Washington next month, until after the midterms if at
all. Giuliani did not return a call for comment.
Members of the presidents informal group of outside advisers, including former
House Speaker Newt Gingrich, have stepped in over the past few weeks to caution
the president against exonerating Manafort before the midterms.
He certainly does not need to do it. The things Manafort has been convicted of
have nothing to do with Trump, Gingrich told POLITICO. The president thinks
Manaforts biggest crime was running the Trump campaign. If he had run the
Clinton campaign, then he would have gotten immunity and never would have had