Rubio: 'I Think it Would Be a Terrible Mistake' to Pardon Manafort

December 9, 2018

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) said it would be a "terrible mistake" for President Donald Trump to pardon former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The Florida senator also said such a pardon could lead to a debate about whether pardoning powers should be limited in certain situations.

"I think it would be a terrible mistake. Pardons should be used judiciously," said Rubio during an appearance on ABC's "This Week." "I know he hasn't ruled it out. it would be a terrible mistake, I think," he later added.

"I think it undermines the reason for presidential pardons. It could trigger a debate about the pardon powers and whether they should be amended given these circumstances. I hope they don't do that," Rubio continued.

A recently released filing from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office accused Manafort of lying to the Justice Department, thereby nullifying a plea agreement he signed earlier this year. Manafort claimed to not be in contact with administration officials, but Mueller's office claims he has been. The New York Times reported a couple weeks ago that Manafort's attorney was briefing Trump's legal team about what Manafort had told the the Department of Justice.

Manafort also reportedly lied about his interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, a former business associate who allegedly has ties to Russian intelligence. Manafort and Kilimnik were charged with obstruction of justice earlier this year for trying to influence potential witnesses at Manafort's trial.

On Saturday, Trump said newly released filings in the Manafort and Michael Cohen cases showed no collusion between his campaign and Russia.

"We're very happy with what we're reading because there was no collusion whatsoever," said the president.

Manafort will receive his first sentence, for eight financial convictions, in early February. His second sentencing will likely be in early March. He faces 17 to 22 years in prison for the charges he faces in D.C. federal court.