As former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort sits behind bars awaiting a verdict on charges of bank and tax fraud, President Trump is paying close attention.
Many legal analysts wonder if Manafort will eventually enter into an agreement to cooperate with the Special Counsel’s investigation as a means to reduce charges or to minimize a potential sentencing that he may have to eventually face. Meanwhile President Trump watches from afar, commenting when he feels it is necessary.
“I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad,” Trump told reporters on Friday. “He happens to be a very good person. And I think it’s very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort.”
Following this comment, former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance appeared on MSNBC to give her opinion on what Trump’s comment could actually mean.
“If you’re Paul Manafort and you hear about that — and we all know Paul Manafort’s heard about that — it’s difficult to read that as anything other than a message to Manafort: ‘Hold on, don’t cut a deal with the government while the jury is out.’”
Vance went on to say that Trump “is, in essence, saying, ‘Don’t do that. Help is on the way. I can pardon you in the future.’”
While we can’t be certain what the president is thinking, most would agree that it is in his best interest if Manafort does not agree to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators. Doing so could provide information that may potentially incriminate those in Trump’s inner circle or even Trump himself, depending on if any laws were broken within the Trump campaign.
Even if President Trump were to pardon Paul Manafort, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Manafort or the President would be in the clear. It’s still possible that Manafort could be charged with state crimes, as long as they don’t overlap with the federal charges he is now facing. Additionally, an attempt by President Trump to pardon Manafort could add evidence to a possible “obstruction of justice” case against the president.
Trump has repeatedly refused to say, one way or another, if he would pardon Manafort. The entire segment of the interview with Joyce Vance can be seen below.