The likely incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee warned President Donald Trump that “even dangling a pardon” for his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort “would fortify a claim or a charge of obstruction of justice.”
“I suspect they’re dangling a pardon in front of Manafort,” Rep. Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat, told Erin Burnett on CNN’s “Erin Burnett Out Front,” “but the President should understand that even dangling a pardon in front of a witness like Manafort is dangerously close to obstruction of justice and would just fortify a claim or a charge of obstruction of justice against the President.”
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team informed a federal judge on Monday that Manafort has “breached” his plea agreement with the Justice Department by lying to the FBI and Mueller’s office two months after he started cooperating in the Russia probe. Manafort was thought to be the star cooperator in the special counsel’s ongoing probe into potential collusion between Russian operatives and Trump associates during the 2016 presidential campaign and transition.
Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiracy and witness tampering on September 14, almost a year after he was first charged and following his conviction by a jury in a separate but related case on eight tax and banking crimes.
“Manafort is a demonstrated criminal, a convicted criminal, a convicted liar, and someone who is lying again now, according to the special counsel,” Nadler said, adding that Manafort “may very well implicate the President in collusion with the Russians to try to rig the election.”
“Any attempt to get him to change his testimony or not to testify by dangling a pardon would be very, would be obstruction of justice,” Nadler said.
CNN’s Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.