Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, launched yet another attack against Special Counsel Robert Mueller, claiming that the Russia investigation could get “cleaned up” with pardons from President Trump in light of Paul Manafort, the president's former campaign manager, being sent to jail.
“When the whole thing is over, things might get cleaned up with some presidential pardons,” Giuliani told the New York Daily News.
"I don’t understand the justification for putting him in jail," Giuliani added. “You put a guy in jail if he’s trying to kill witnesses, not just talking to witnesses. That kind of investigation should not go forward. It’s time for Justice to investigate the investigators.”
Earlier today, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sent Paul Manafort to jail, pending trial.
"The harm in this case is harm to the administration of justice and harm to the integrity of the court's system," Berman Jackson told Manafort in court, capping an end to months of attempts from Manafort to lighten his house arrest restrictions.
Manafort and his longtime business partner Rick Gates were charged with 12 counts of “conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.”
Last week, the office of the special counsel filed a superseding indictment against Manafort; the indictment also named Manafort’s former business associate Konstantin Kilimnik, an individual with close ties to Russian intelligence, as a co-defendant. The two men face obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice charges. The indictment alleges that they conspired to intimidate witnesses in Robert Mueller's investigation into whether Russian operatives interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
@Tom_Winter Special Counsel statement on superseding indictment against Manafort: "[The indictment] charges both d… https://t.co/y9T0MuHRko— NBC News (@NBC News)1528481280.0
President Trump, who has stepped up his attacks against the special counsel in recent weeks, said Manafort, who has a history of representing prominent Republican politicians, faces a "tough sentence."
"Didn't know Manafort was the head of the Mob," he added.
Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort, who has represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other top politi… https://t.co/YNjm2jx3CB— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1529084470.0
Giuliani's suggestion that Manafort could receive a pardon in his future does little to hide much of the White House's intentions.
In March, a bombshell New York Times report revealed that John Dowd, the president's former attorney, floated the idea of Trump pardoning Manafort and his former national security adviser Michael Flynn of charges related to Mueller's investigation.
Two people familiar with how the legal team operated told The New York Times said Dowd “took the lead” in dealing directly with attorneys for both Flynn and Manafort.
Dowd’s conversation with Robert Kelner, Flynn’s attorney, occurred sometime after Dowd became the president’s personal lawyer, at a time when a grand jury was hearing evidence against Flynn on several potential crimes. A White House source told reporters that Dowd had mentioned privately that he did not know why Flynn had accepted a plea with the special counsel. The discussion with Reginald Brown, Manafort’s attorney, came just before his client was indicted in October for federal crimes.
While it’s unclear whether Dowd discussed the pardons with the president before bringing them up with the other lawyers, the talks suggest that the president’s legal team was concerned about what Flynn and Manafort might reveal were they to cut a deal with Mueller and his investigators.
Giuliani himself made headlines earlier this month when, during an interview he gave The Huffington Post, he claimed that Trump hypothetically could have shot former FBI director James Comey to end the Russia investigation and not face prosecution for it while in office.
Trump’s presidential power, said Giuliani, is such that “in no case can he be subpoenaed or indicted.”
“I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is,” he added.
Giuliani noted that if the president had shot James Comey instead of firing him––as he did in May 2017––Trump would face impeachment rather than prosecution.
“If he shot James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day,” Giuliani said. “Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him.”
Giuliani later claimed, in an interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week,” that Trump “probably does” have the power to pardon himself should he be found guilty of obstructing justice.
“He has no intention of pardoning himself,” said Giuliani. But it is a “really interesting constitutional argument: ‘Can the president pardon himself?’”
“I think the political ramifications of that would be tough,” he continued. “Pardoning other people is one thing. Pardoning yourself is another. Other presidents have pardoned people in circumstances like this, both in their administration and sometimes the next president even of a different party will come along and pardon.”
Not long after Giuliani's interview, the president asserted that he has the right to pardon himself and once again stressed his belief that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference is “unconstitutional.”
As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that… https://t.co/pB6MquREjZ— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1528115725.0
The latest statement from Giuliani and the attacks from the president come the same week as a new Politico/Morning Consult poll which reveals that Robert Mueller’s favorability among Democrats and independents has slipped considerably.
According to the poll, 24 percent of Democrats rate Mueller and his investigation into Russian interference unfavorably. 33 percent of independents said they now view Mueller negatively. 36 percent of all registered voters are also seeing Mueller unfavorably, the highest the poll has reported over the last 11 months. “Back then, 23 percent of all voters said they viewed Mueller negatively,” Politico observed.
Mueller’s favorability among Republicans also took a significant hit, in what is likely an indication that President Donald Trump’s continuous attacks against the special counsel’s probe are working. A record 53 percent of Republicans say they now view Mueller unfavorably.