(CBS News) — Pardoning former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is still a possibility, President Trump told the New York Post in an Oval Office interview Wednesday.
“It was never discussed, but I wouldn’t take it off the table. Why would I take it off the table?” Mr. Trump said of a potential pardon.
Manafort has already been convicted on eight counts of fraud as a result of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling and any ties to Trump associates, and Manafort reached a plea deal to avoid another trial. But special counsel Robert Mueller’s office claimed earlier this week that Manafort breached that agreement by lying.
Mr. Trump also compared Mueller’s investigation to McCarthyism, a 1950s campaign led by Sen. Joe McCarthy, R-Wisc., accusing Americans of harboring communist sentiments. Mr. Trump praised Manafort, his former political adviser Roger Stone and Roger Stone’s associate Jerome Corsi as “brave.”
“It’s actually very brave,” Mr. Trump told the post of the three. “And I’m telling you, this is McCarthyism. We are in the McCarthy era. This is no better than McCarthy. And that was a bad situation for the country. But this is where we are. And it’s a terrible thing.”
Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said pardoning Manafort would be a “blatant and unacceptable abuse of power.”
“This would be a blatant and unacceptable abuse of power,” Warner tweeted. “The pardon power is not the president’s personal tool for protecting himself and his friends.”