This is where you can read our posts, listed chronologically. We hope you find them thought-provoking, informative and/or in some other way worthwhile reading.
Critics of President Donald Trump cheered Wednesday’s news that prosecutors in New York have filed state charges against former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Significantly, if a jury convicts Manafort of any of the 16 counts, Trump could not pardon him for the offenses.
A possible pardon of Manafort has been something of an obsession for progressives since the former campaign boss first came into the crosshairs of independent counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump has given no indication that he intends to pardon Manafort of the federal tax evasion and bank fraud charges of which he has been convicted. On Wednesday, he told reporters that he feels badly for Manafort, who received additional punishment and now will serve 7½ years in prison. But Trump added that he has not thought about a pardon.
The perplexing part about the notion of a pardon is what Trump would have to gain from such an action. The downside is obvious. It would trigger a new round of negative publicity and allegations that the pardon was an attempt to shortchange the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election – perhaps even obstruction of justice.
Indeed, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) on Wednesday issued a warning on Twitter.
“Any attempt to pardon him would be a gross abuse of power requiring immediate action by Congress,” he wrote.
And the upside?
It’s hard to figure out. If Trump’s intention were to somehow thwart Mueller’s investigation, the time to issue a pardon would have been shortly after Mueller filed the charges. By now, whatever information about collusion Mueller may have been able to obtain from Manafort has been obtained already.
A pardon now cannot undo whatever Mueller has learned.
Even an early pardon likely would not have slowed Mueller down. In fact, it might have backfired; had Manafort been pardoned, he would have had no grounds to assert his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. That means he would have had no legal reason to avoid testifying before Mueller’s grand jury if he were trying to hide some scheme between the campaign and Russian agents to fix the 2016 election.
Throughout his career, Trump has revealed himself to be transactional. That is, he rarely acts out of purely altruistic motives. Many who have been close to him describe his concept of loyalty as a one-way street.
If this picture is accurate, it suggests all the more that he would not grant a pardon with nothing to gain.
Reportedly, Trump rebuffed pleas for help from Michael Cohen, his onetime personal lawyer. And Cohen’s relationship with Trump ran far deeper than Manafort’s. The president apparently did not know Manafort before the campaign, turning to him when aides suggested his experience in Republican politics could be helpful if Trump failed to gain enough delegates to win the nomination at the GOP convention without a fight.
Unlike Trump’s pardon of say, former Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is extremely popular with immigration hawks and others who admire the former sheriff’s tough-on-crime stances, Manafort has no constituency in the Republican Party.
Pardoning the former campaign boss would not help Trump politically, even with a narrow segment of the party. It would not stop Mueller. It would not stop multiple congressional investigations.
It would, however, create new headaches.
So why do it?