Now that President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort has been indicted on 12 serious counts, will the president pardon his former campaign chief? Trump’s White House lawyer, Ty Cobb, answered that question on Monday.
What did Cobb say?
Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution grants the president unlimited pardon power except in cases of impeachment. He could pardon Manafort of all 12 charges, but Cobb told reporters that Trump has not and will not consider a pardon in this case.
"No, no, no. That’s never come up and won’t come up,” Cobb said, according to the Washington Post.
Cobb was also asked about another former Trump campaign staffer, Rick Gates, who was indicted with Manafort. Cobb said Trump won’t consider a pardon for Gates, either.
Presumably, Trump doesn’t want to pardon Manafort or Gates because a pardon might imply some wrongdoing on his part in the Russia controversy. Trump has maintained his innocence since day one, and probably doesn’t want to waiver from that in any way.
A pardon would also be extremely unpopular. According to FiveThirtyEight, presidential pardons of people who are seen as "a political crony" or past associate of the president are both controversial and unpopular. Some of the most unpopular presidential pardons in history include Bill Clinton's pardon of the Whitewater associates and his pardon of Marc Rich. George W. Bush's pardon of Scooter Libby was also extremely unpopular, according to FiveThirtyEight. An NBC poll also found that Trump's pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio was widely frowned upon.
Trump, already one of the most unpopular presidents in U.S. history, likely doesn’t want his approval numbers to dip further. If they did, executing his job and agenda would become exponentially more difficult.