Sen. Marco Rubio said Sunday that he doesn’t think President Donald Trump should grant a pardon to his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, calling such a move “a mistake.”
“It would be a mistake,” Rubio, R-Florida, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union,” when asked about the possibility. “And I would strongly counsel against it. I don’t think that – in my view, the presidential pardon power was not created for these sorts of purposes.”
“I just think it would be the wrong thing to do,” he said. “And I think it would be a huge political mistake as well. So, I hope that doesn’t happen. And that would be my position on it.”
A potential pardon for Manafort has become the subject of much attention after special counsel Robert Mueller said Friday in a heavily redacted document that Manafort lied about five major issues, including his “contact with administration officials,” after agreeing to cooperate with federal prosecutors.
Wealth of evidence
The filing said Manafort also lied about his interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, who allegedly has ties to the Russian military intelligence unit accused of hacking the Democrats. The accusations add to growing signs that the special counsel’s team has a wealth of evidence about contacts between people close to Trump – even in the White House – and Russians during the 2016 campaign.
Manafort is currently in jail awaiting sentencing for numerous financial convictions by a Virginia jury and could face a long prison sentence. He could also receive 17 to 22 years in prison for two separate charges filed in DC relating to the Russia probe.
On Sunday, Rubio also discussed a potential Manafort pardon with ABC’s Martha Raddatz on “This Week,” telling the host that pardons “should be used judiciously.”
“And I think, in fact, if something like that were to happen, it could trigger a debate about whether the pardon powers should be amended given these circumstances,” Rubio said.
CNN’s Katelyn Polantz, Marshall Cohen and Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.