- President Donald Trump on Wednesday said a pardon for his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is “not off the table” as he erroneously accused the special counsel Robert Mueller of coercing people to “flip and lie.”
- “You know this flipping stuff is terrible. You flip and you lie and you get – the prosecutors will tell you 99% of the time they can get people to flip. It’s rare that they can’t,” Trump told The New York Post in an interview.
- This comes shortly after Manafort was accused by Mueller of violating his plea deal by lying to the FBI and the special counsel’s office on a “variety of subject matters.”
President Donald Trump on Wednesday said a pardon for his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is “not off the table” and erroneously accused special counsel Robert Mueller of coercing people to “flip and lie.”
In an Oval Office interview with The New York Post, the president said, “It was never discussed, but I wouldn’t take it off the table. Why would I take it off the table?”
Trump, without evidence, then accused Mueller of coercing Manafort – and others linked to the special counsel’s probe into Russia election interference – to lie.
“You know this flipping stuff is terrible. You flip and you lie and you get – the prosecutors will tell you 99% of the time they can get people to flip. It’s rare that they can’t,” Trump said.
The president’s comments came shortly after Mueller accused Manafort of violating his plea deal by lying to the FBI on “a variety of subject matters.”
Meanwhile, the special counsel is also zeroing in on the GOP strategist Roger Stone and the far-right commentator Jerome Corsi as he investigates whether Trump associates had advance knowledge of Russia’s plans to hack into the Democratic National Committee and WikiLeaks’ plan to disseminate stolen information.
Corsi told reporters this week that he had been offered a plea deal by Mueller’s office but that he would not take it because he would have to plead guilty to perjury. Corsi maintains that he did not knowingly mislead investigators, but in a draft statement of offence obtained by NBC News, prosecutors said Corsi lied to them about his communications with Stone in 2016.
According to the statement of offence, which has not been filed, Stone asked Corsi, three days after the Russians hacked into the DNC, to try to “get the pending [WikiLeaks] emails.” Corsi reportedly forwarded the request to the conservative commentator and controversial academic Ted Malloch, and touched base with Stone eight days later to tell him he anticipated “2 more dumps” that would be “very damaging” to the Clinton campaign.
But in an interview with prosecutors, the statement of offence said, Corsi falsely claimed he rebuffed Stone’s initial request, opening him up to a perjury charge.
Trump in recent days has raged over Mueller’s claims, accusing him of “ruining people’s lives” for “refusing to lie.” The president has long criticised Mueller’s investigation, characterising it as a “witch hunt” while vehemently denying allegations his campaign colluded with Russia.
So far, 33 people have been indicted as part of the Russia investigation, and Mueller has obtained seven guilty pleas, including one from the former national security adviser. He has also secured the cooperation of Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime former lawyer who pleaded guilty this year to tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations.
During his Wednesday interview, Trump told the New York Post that he admired the “trio” of Manafort, Stone, and Corsi. “It’s actually very brave,” he said, referring to the three men.
He then compared the Russia probe to McCarthyism.
“We are in the McCarthy era,” he said. “This is no better than McCarthy. And that was a bad situation for the country. But this is where we are. And it’s a terrible thing.”
The presidential pardon is among the most controversial powers of the president, and critics have already accused Trump of abusing it by pardoning incendiary individuals such as Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
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