Hours after former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort was sent to jail, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani suggested that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation could get “cleaned up” with “some presidential pardons” when all is said and done.
“When the whole thing is over, things might get cleaned up with some presidential pardons,” the former New York City mayor told the New York Daily News on Friday.
Earlier in the day, a judge in Washington, DC, ruled that Manafort, who served as the chair of Donald Trump’s campaign for part of 2016, had violated his conditions for release on house arrest and would be jailed as he awaits trial.
Giuliani said he didn’t “understand the justification” for putting Manafort in jail. “You put a guy in jail if he’s trying to kill witnesses, not just talking to witnesses,” he said.
Manafort has been a primary focus of charges in the special counsel’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Mueller first indicted Manafort in October of last year and has added multiple other charges since. Just last week, he was charged with witness tampering, which ultimately led to Friday’s decision by Judge Amy Berman Jackson that he should be in jail.
Giuliani also renewed calls to shut down the Mueller investigation. “That kind of investigation should not go forward,” he said. “It’s time for Justice to investigate the investigators.”
President Trump was asked by reporters about potentially pardoning former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and others caught up in the Russia probe. “I don’t want to talk about that,” he said, adding he wants to “see people treated fairly.”
He reacted to Manafort’s jailing on Twitter later in the day, calling it “very unfair.”
Trump has been having fun with the pardon power
President Trump has gotten a taste for his presidential pardon powers. He has pardoned multiple individuals since taking office, publicly toyed with pardoning himself, and seems to broadcast his ability to pardon people pretty regularly.
He’s pardoned former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Navy sailor Kristian Saucier, former Bush administration official Scooter Libby, conservative writer Dinesh D’Souza, and deceased boxer Jack Johnson. He also commuted the life sentence of Alice Johnson, a 63-year-old great-grandmother in prison for drug trafficking, at the urging of Kim Kardashian West.
He has floated other potential pardons, including former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Martha Stewart. He’s also said he wants protesting NFL players to offer up ideas for whom he should pardon next.
The president’s pardon powers are vast and essentially unlimited, meaning Trump has a lot of leeway to act. His list could certainly include Manafort or anyone else charged and convicted with crimes as part of the Russia investigation, as Vox’s Dylan Matthews recently pointed out:
Former Trump lawyer John Dowd reportedly floated the option of pardons to lawyers for Manafort and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn last year. Flynn, at least, appears not to have accepted and made a deal with prosecutors last year.
Trump hasn’t tried to pardon himself out of the Russia investigation yet. Doing so would be complicated, which might explain why he hasn’t tried it.
But one thing is clear: The pardon is certainly on his mind — and his team’s. That Giuliani would mention the matter just hours after Manafort was jailed is not a coincidence.