President Trump’s refusal to take the possibility of a pardon off the table for his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort does not sit well with the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff (D-CA).
Appearing on ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos, Schiff said that Trump’s leaving open the possibility of rescinding Manafort’s prison term for the multiple felonies that he’s already been convicted of by a jury in a federal trial, as well as the charges to which he has pled guilty but not yet been sentenced, would merely add to the continually expanding evidence that the president is engaged in obstruction of justice in the investigation into his actions by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
“The president continues to dangle a pardon for Paul Manafort, which only adds to growing body of evidence that the president is engaged in obstructing justice,” Schiff told the ABC News host.
Last week, Trump claimed in an interview with The New York Post that he had not discussed the possibility of a pardon for Manafort, but refused to rule it out, citing his own self-interest and accusing Mueller of inducing witnesses to lie in their answers to his questions
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“It was never discussed, but I wouldn’t take it off the table. Why would I take it off the table?” Trump told The Post.
While Trump used his usual tactic of accusing others of that which he himself is most likely to have done, the facts are that Manafort had agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s probe after being found guilty of bank and tax fraud charges in the first of the two trials that he faced in order to avoid the cost and potential lengthier jail term if he were to be found equally guilty in the second.
While the agreement would have allowed Manafort to seek a reduced sentence in exchange for his cooperation, the deal fell apart last week when Mueller revealed that the felonious former campaign chairman had not only lied to investigators rather than cooperate, but was also sharing details of the investigation with President Trump’s own legal team, acting as a double agent for the president.
Congressman Schiff urged Mueller to “throw the book” at Manafort for his deception.
“You cannot have people who are essentially in discussions with you flaunt that process, deceive you, if you want to telegraph to other witnesses that you darn well better be true when you say you want to cooperate with us,” Schiff told Stephanopoulos.
With President Trump openly doing everything he can to discredit Mueller’s inquiry, Rep Schiff will be the most important backstop to the probe once he takes over the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee in January. Once he gains the subpoena power that comes with the assignment, he’ll be able to provide oversight of any moves Trump takes to curtail or end the Special Counsel’s investigation, moves that could only add to the already mounting body of evidence of obstruction that has already been discovered.
You can watch a clip of Congressman Adam Schiff on ABC‘s This Week in the video below.
Rep. Adam Schiff on charge that Paul Manafort lied in testimony to the special counsel: "The president continues to dangle a pardon for Paul Manafort, which only adds to the growing body of evidence that the president is engaged in obstructing justice." https://t.co/04Cn5K0bxP pic.twitter.com/Ho5UGFhTCu
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) December 2, 2018
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Original reporting by Brett Samuels at The Hill.