Trump Lawyer's Advice to President: Don't Pardon Russia Probe Figures
One of U.S. President Donald Trump's lawyers said Sunday he is advising him to not pardon anyone linked to the year-long investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election because it would "just cloud" the perception that there was wrong-doing.
Rudy Giuliani, a former New York mayor and part of Trump's legal team, told CNN, "You're not going to get a pardon because you're involved" in the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. But he said that in the months to come pardons were "certainly not excluded" if Trump concluded "you've been treated unfairly."
“The president has issued no pardons in this investigation," Giuliani said. "The president is not going to issue pardons in this investigation."
“And my advice to him, as long as I’m his lawyer, is not to do it," he said. "Because you just cloud what is becoming now a very clear picture of an extremely unfair investigation with no criminality involved of any kind. I want that to come out loud and clear and not get clouded by anybody being fired or anybody being pardoned.”
Trump has pardoned several conservative icons in recent weeks, but Giuliani said no one being investigated by Mueller "should rely on it."
Even so, he said, "When it’s over, hey, he’s the president of the United States. He retains his pardon power. Nobody’s taking that away from him. He can pardon in his judgment based on the Justice Department, counsel’s office, not me. I’m out of it. And I shouldn’t be involved in that process because I’m probably too rooted in his defense, but I couldn’t and I don’t want to take prerogatives away from him.“
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was jailed last week, prompting new questions whether Trump might pardon him. Manafort is accused of witness tampering in a criminal case that stems from his lobbying efforts for Ukraine years before he was a top Trump aide for nearly five months during the 2016 campaign.
Trump attacked Manafort's jailing, saying on Twitter, "Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort …. Didn’t know Manafort was the head of the Mob…. Very unfair!"
There is no indication when Mueller's investigation might end. He is probing whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian interests to help him win and whether Trump obstructed justice by firing former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey when he was leading the agency's Russia investigation before Mueller, over Trump's objections, was appointed to take over the probe.
In a new broadside against the investigation, Trump tweeted, "WITCH HUNT! There was no Russian Collusion. Oh, I see, there was no Russian Collusion, so now they look for obstruction on the no Russian Collusion. The phony Russian Collusion was a made up Hoax. Too bad they didn’t look at Crooked Hillary like this. Double Standard!" His reference to "Crooked Hillary" is his oft-repeated pejorative for his 2016 challenger, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Giuliani called for investigation of the origins of the Mueller investigation, contending it was "premised on Comey's illegally leaked memo" about the FBI's director's private conversations with Trump.
"There's a lot of unfairness out there, but we don't know the scope of it," Giuliani said.