WASHINGTON — President Trump isn’t going to help Paul Manafort get out of jail — yet.
Manafort, who was one of Trump’s presidential campaign managers in 2016, was found guilty on Tuesday of eight different charges related to his taxes and personal finances. Trump responded to the verdict by repeatedly praising Manafort’s character, raising speculation that he could aid his former ally with a presidential pardon. However, according to Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, the president isn’t currently mulling a pardon for Manafort.
Giuliani responded on Wednesday morning to a text message asking whether Trump would consider a pardon for Manafort.
“No, not at this time,” Giuliani wrote.
Manafort and another former member of Trump’s inner circle, the president’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen, were both pronounced guilty of financial crimes in separate cases on Tuesday. Federal investigators began looking into their dealings as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election and whether Trump’s campaign cooperated with those efforts.
With both Cohen and Manafort facing prison sentences and other ongoing investigations, the pair are under mounting pressure to seek a deal that would involve cooperating with Mueller’s investigation. While Manafort has not given any indication he’d work with prosecutors, Cohen and one of his attorneys have made a variety of public statements indicating he’s eager to make a deal and claiming he has valuable information to offer Mueller.
Trump noted the difference in Manafort and Cohen’s behavior in a tweet on Wednesday morning, in which he praised Manafort and criticized federal prosecutors.
“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. ‘Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ — make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for a brave man!” Trump wrote.
While Giuliani said Trump isn’t considering a pardon for Manafort right now, his comment left open the possibility that the president could do so in the future.
Indeed, a campaign source previously said they could see Manafort getting “some type of pardon” from Trump. According to the source, the timing is a concern for the president, with the likeliest options coming after the 2020 election or at the “tail end” of Trump’s tenure in the White House.
Manafort’s lead attorney, Kevin Downing, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While Manafort was found guilty on eight counts, the judge declared a mistrial on 10 other counts brought by prosecutors because the jury was unable to reach a verdict. Prosecutors have until Aug. 29 to decide whether they want to retry the remaining counts with a new jury.
Either way, Manafort is facing a separate trial in Washington, D.C., next month relating to his lobbying work in Ukraine. Manafort currently remains in jail in Alexandria, Va.
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