Talk about throwing gasoline on a fire.
Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz said the language used by President Donald Trump in response to former campaign manager Paul Manafort being found guilt on 8 counts of tax and bank fraud suggests he may be considering a pardon.
“The language that the president has used in relation to Manafort is very different than what he’s used in relation to [Michael] Cohen,” Dershowitz said in an interview on Hill TV.
“He talks about it being a tragedy, that he’s a good person, that he’s served many people in many administrations,” the liberal law professor added. “It sounds like it’s certainly possible that he may be considering a pardon.”.
Trump responded to the news that Manafort was convicted on 8 counts of tax and bank fraud when he landed in West Virginia for a rally.
Describing Manafort a “good man,” he told reporters that he was “very sad” and that Manafort’s prosecution was a “disgrace” because it had nothing to do with claims of collusion with Russia.
“I feel badly… Paul Manafort is a good man,” Trump said. “I feel very sad about that because it involved me. It’s a very sad thing that happened. It has nothing to do with Russian collusion, it’s a witch hunt and it’s a disgrace… I feel very badly for Paul Manafort.”
In a tweet early Wednesday, Trump said he had “respect” for Manafort, calling him a “brave man” for not breaking under pressure, comparing him to his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to eight criminal counts — implicating Trump in the process, saying he made illegal campaign contributions “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office.”
The president tweeted: “I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. ‘Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ – make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for a brave man!”
Trump has previously expressed sympathy for Manafort, even suggesting he’s being treated worse than the notorious gangster Al Capone.
“Looking back on history, who was treated worse, Alfonse Capone, legendary mob boss, killer and ‘Public Enemy Number One,’ or Paul Manafort, political operative & Reagan/Dole darling, now serving solitary confinement – although convicted of nothing? Where is the Russian Collusion?” he tweeted on Aug. 1.
As for the possibility of a pardon, NBC national security reporter Ken Delanian said last month that his prosecution was politically motivated.
“This guy has been a fixture of American politics since the 1970s, and it is kind of a Shakespearean tragedy because the Justice Department investigate him years ago and took a pass, didn’t pursue this case,” Delanian said.
“The only reason he’s wearing a green jumpsuit today is because he went to work for Donald Trump.”
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