President Donald Trump said in a Fox News interview on Wednesday that he had “great respect” for his former campaign chairman, but didn’t say whether he was considering pardoning him.
Speaking to Fox News’ Ainsley Earhardt, who asked him whether he would pardon Paul Manafort, Trump avoided answering the question directly but rather spoke about Manafort’s previous work and the respect he had for his former associate.
“You know, he worked for Ronald Reagan for years, he worked for Bob Dole, he worked — I guess his firm worked for [Sen. John] McCain. He worked for many, many people, many many years,” President Trump noted.
On Tuesday, Manafort was found guilty on eight charges related to financial crimes, which Trump described as something “every consultant, every lobbyist in Washington probably does.” President Trump then moved on to criticize his political opponent Hillary Clinton and the people working for her, maintaining that nothing has been done regarding their crimes.
“If you look at Hillary Clinton’s person, you take a look at the people that work for Hillary Clinton,” Trump began. “With the emails and she deletes 33,000 emails after she gets a subpoena from Congress and this Justice Department does nothing about it? And all of the other crimes that they’ve done?”
Later in the interview, the President also touched upon Michael Cohen’s guilty plea and the hush money payment he made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, claiming he only learned of it sometime later and insisting the money used for the payment didn’t come from campaign funds.
What could complicate matters for President Trump, Newsweek writes, is if Manafort took a deal from special counsel Robert Mueller in exchange for leniency. But Trump could decide to pardon Manafort and thus undercut the special counsel’s position, the outlet adds.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Wednesday the former campaign chairman’s pardon has not been up for discussion.