Dec 9, 2018, 10:15 AM ET

Pardoning Paul Manafort would be 'terrible mistake,' could 'trigger a debate' about pardon power: Sen. Marco Rubio

#

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said repeatedly that President Donald Trump pardoning former campaign chairman Paul Manafort would be a “terrible mistake,” and that doing so could possibly “trigger a debate about whether the pardon powers should be amended.”

Interested in Russia Investigation?

Add Russia Investigation as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Russia Investigation news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
Add Interest

“I believe it'd be a terrible mistake," Rubio said on “This Week” Sunday. "Pardons should be used judiciously. They're used for cases with extraordinary circumstances.”

(MORE: Paul Manafort lied about contact with administration officials: Special counsel)

Special counsel Robert Mueller has accused Manafort of lying about his contacts with administration officials in 2018 and at least four other details related to his probe of Russian election meddling during the 2016 campaign.

As ABC News confirmed, Manafort’s legal team had been sharing information about his interactions with the special counsel with the president’s legal team -- a story that was first reported by the New York Times.

This reignited speculation Manafort could be angling for a pardon from Trump.

PHOTO: Paul Manafort, President Donald Trumps former campaign chairman, leaves the federal courthouse in Washington D.C., Feb. 14, 2018.Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP, FILE
Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves the federal courthouse in Washington D.C., Feb. 14, 2018.

Trump last month told the New York Post that though a pardon for Manafort had never been discussed, he “wouldn’t take it off the table.”

“I don't believe that any pardons should be used with relation to these particular cases, frankly,” Rubio told Co-Anchor Martha Raddatz. “Not only does it not pass the smell test, I just think it undermines the reason why we have presidential pardons in the first place, and I think, in fact, that if something like that were to happen, it could trigger a debate about whether the pardon powers should be amended given these circumstances, so I hope that they don't do that. It would be a terrible mistake if they did.”

In a heavily redacted court document filed Friday, in addition to lying about contacts with the White House, the special counsel accused Manafort of lying about his contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime business associate of Manafort’s whom the special counsel has identified as a former Russian intelligence officer. The filings also alleged Manafort lied about money laundering, a wire-transfer to a firm that was working for him and "information pertinent to another department of Justice investigation.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told ABC News in a statement Friday, “The government’s filing in Mr. Manafort’s case says absolutely nothing about the President. It says even less about collusion and is devoted almost entirely to lobbying-related issues. Once again the media is trying to create a story where there isn’t one.”

PHOTO: Donald Trump, flanked by campaign manager Paul Manafort and daughter Ivanka, checks the podium in preparation for accepting the GOP nomination to be President at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 20, 2016. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images FILE
Donald Trump, flanked by campaign manager Paul Manafort and daughter Ivanka, checks the podium in preparation for accepting the GOP nomination to be President at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 20, 2016.

This comes more than a week after prosecutors for the special counsel told a judge in a court filing that Manafort had broken his plea agreement by lying to the FBI and the special counsel “on a variety of subject matters, which constitutes breaches of the agreement.”

Manafort’s legal team disputed that, saying the former campaign manager “believes he has provided truthful information.”

In addition to Manafort, Raddatz noted there are four others in Trump's orbit who were receptive to Russian outreach: the president's former longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen, his eldest son Donald Trump Jr., former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign aide George Papadopoulos.

“Is it really possible at this point to say that that's just coincidence?” Raddatz asked Rubio on “This Week.”

“People have a right to say that that's what happened, especially when facing criminal charges. That doesn't necessarily make it true. It doesn't make it untrue either,” Rubio said.

“There's no way to spin this,” he said of the filings. “This has not been a positive development for the people that are involved in this, but I just think, and we have learned over time, that it is important for all of this to be out there before us, in full context compared to other information before we begin to make political judgments.”

PHOTO: President Donald Trump walks to speak to the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Dec. 8, 2018. Carolyn Kaster/AP
President Donald Trump walks to speak to the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Dec. 8, 2018.

“And I will tell, when all that information is out there, no one -- no one is more important than our country, no one is held above the law,” he added.

Rubio said that until the American people see all the findings from both the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russian interference probe and the special counsel’s investigation, that it’s important to reserve judgment.

“I would concede we have more bits and pieces than we did a couple weeks ago,” the Senate Intelligence Committee member said, then added, “before I’m prepared to make a public pronouncement that I’m ready to make judgment on one thing or another, I’d like to have all of the information.”

News - Pardoning Paul Manafort would be 'terrible mistake,' could 'trigger a debate' about pardon power: Sen. Marco Rubio

RRelated Posts

CComments

  • Thomas

    Limiting the president's authority for clemency would require an amendment to the constitution.

  • Gargos

    Yeah, Trump better watch out. Rubio and other Republican Senators will have lots of stern words for Trump if he pardons Manafort.

  • Alex

    It would also be futile. Lots of state-level charges could be levied against Manafort. There's no way he dies a free man at this point. Should have cooperated in full there Paulie.

  • Lee Thompson

    Comments are made, followed by no action, EVER.

  • John bailey

    We know Marco, but what will you do about it. Right you will go on TV and say it was a terrible mistake.

  • Dr. Gurnicus Blanstonius

    Another Republican profile in Courage...lol. Perhaps Marco, Ted Cruz, Mitt Romney, Reince Priebus and Paul Ryan should all start a club called 'The Coward's Way Out'? Or maybe 'How to Discard my Integrity in 10 Easy Steps'..?

  • Forward forward

    And what would 'Little Marco' do? Vote with Trump every step along the way. A true profile in cowardice by a man with the spine of an angleworm.

  • Jen Bordon

    "Pardoning Paul Manafort would be 'terrible mistake,' could 'trigger a debate' about pardon power"

    Wow, Mr,Rubio - tough talk! A debate even!
    Why don't you and the other corrupt Republican goons enact protection for Mueller???

  • Nearl56 12

    Never heard anyone so noncommittal in my life.

    Give the man a glass of water.

  • MIchael Johnson

    I used to respect Rubio and probably would have voted for him against Clinton.

    He danced around the questions and layered them in endless babble in this interview.

    I would not trust a Senate investigation and any "Findings" they may reach - they have proven themselves to be hacks and cronies that could not care less about truth, honor or justice.

    I would fully believe the results and conclusion of the Mueller investigation as it has appeared to be free of politics and of the highest integrity possible.

    Rubio should have left it at: 'Pardoning anyone implicated in this scandal would give rise to serious discussions of Impeachment for obstruction of justice' PERIOD.

  • Nibble1254

    Yes the one's Trump has done were great reasons to keep pardon powers alone and against is Obama he let coke dealers out and in the hundreds. How about Mr. Rubio keeps his damn mouth shut and worry about the Senate and keeping it honest or maybe you should be told how to do your job!!

  • phosgene

    debate pardon powers, marco? if he pardons manafort, the only debate to have is when to schedule his impeachment trial.....

  • (((Rocket Cat)))

    Rubio: the president is clearly a corrupt criminal who is actively trying to obstruct justice.

    Reporter: so, he should be impeached?

    Rubio: no, let's just pretend were going to amend the constitution and keep the corrupt criminal in office.

  • What?

    "They're used for cases with extraordinary circumstances.”
    HeHe!

  • Gracie

    Presidents always pardon bad guys. In a majority of cases it is justified they are spending their time in jail. Trump should NOT pardon Manafort. He is EVIL. Tax evader, traitor, liar, con artist and the list goes on and on. I think we should send Manafort and family, and Trump and family on a one way trip to Russia and let Putin deal with them. My guess is that within a week, Putin will be sending the Manaforts and Trumps on a one way ticket to Siberia.