Today marked the second day of jury deliberations for the trial of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign manager. Manafort is being tried for 18 criminal charges for bank and tax fraud related to the time he spent working for a Ukrainian political party. Manafort refused to cooperate with the Mueller investigation, and it has been theorized that this decision was based on a belief that President Trump would pardon him if he were convicted.
Whether Trump will pardon Manafort is unknown; however he has used his pardon power politically in the past, and his former lawyer, John Down, apparently broached the subject of a possible pardon with Manafort’s lawyers. When asked whether he would consider pardoning Manafort, the President refused to say, but did comment that “the whole . . . trial is very sad.”
In an article written for the American Constitutional Society, entitled Why President Trump Can’t Pardon His Way Out of the Special Counsel and Cohen Investigations, Noah Bookbinder, Norman Eisen, Caroline Fredrickson, and Conor Shaw write that “a prospective pardon of a witness in the Russia investigation might . . . constitute an obstruction of a criminal investigation . . . .” They are referring to section 1510 of title 18 of the the United States Code, which makes the “[willful endeavoring], by means of bribery to obstruct, delay, or prevent the communication of information relating to a violation of any criminal statute of the United States by any person to a criminal investigator” a federal crime. If President Trump did, directly or indirectly, promise Manafort a pardon in exchange for his refusal to cooperate with Mueller, then he may not only be subject to criminal indictment but yet another article of impeachment as well.
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