The Trump regime is openly floating the trial balloon of a Manafort pardon to Politico in order to see how badly it actually crashes.
President Donald Trump’s lawyers and a cadre of informal White House advisers claim they’ve convinced him not to pardon Paul Manafort — but White House officials expect the president to do it anyway.
The president’s 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. He’s 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, Trump’s 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 president’s 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 Manafort’s 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 any problems.”
White House counsel Don McGahn is also dead set against a presidential pardon of Manafort, according to one administration official — though a person close to McGahn said that he and the president had not discussed the issue.
"Eight current and former administration officials", and I'm betting at least one of them is Trump himself, just to see how this plays in Peoria. He's really terrified with Weisselberg and Cohen turning on him. Manafort is his only real play short of waiting it out, and he knows it.
We'll see what the response is, but unless Republican senators start screaming bloody murder this weekend, this could happen (and even then he still may do it anyway.) On the other hand, the fact that 60% of Americans are against it, and only 11% are for it, means he could be talked down. Even Republicans aren't willing to back Trump on this (38% against, 20% for, 42% unsure) but that 42% unsure would almost certainly back Trump if he did it.